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Rick Scott calls for moratorium on rent, mortgages and utility payments

Florida senator wants 60-day break for individuals making under $75,000 a year.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott on Sunday called for a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments. The Naples Republican said big steps must be taken to ease economic burdens on Americans facing a global pandemic.

“The best thing we can do to help individuals & small businesses RIGHT NOW is a moratorium on rent, mortgages, fees, & utilities,” Scott tweeted.

“Rather than bailing out big businesses, we should be focusing on those that need help the most.”

The call came days after President Donald Trump ordered a freeze on evictions and foreclosures with HUD-backed loans. Rep. Shevrin Jones, a South Florida Democrat, had previously called such a suspension in Florida, along with stopping utility cutoffs.

But Scott’s proposal was more radical, suggesting landlords, lenders and local providers not be allowed to collect on bills for the moment.

In a column published by Fox Business, Scott said such a move makes more sense than bailing out major companies.

“Let me be clear: we should not bail out large corporations that have enjoyed years of growth and prosperity. I won’t support it,” Scott wrote. “The people that need help the most are small businesses, hourly workers, people who rely on tips, and gig economy workers like Uber and Lyft drivers.”

Scott said Congress should increase federal assistance to unemployment insurance programs and change regulations to open funds to workers out of a job to immediately access.

More radically, he wants a 60-day moratorium on “mortgages, rent, fees and utilities for both individuals making less than $75,000 a year and small businesses with less than 250 employees.

He suggests the payments be postponed and paid over the course of a year afterward.

Such a move would be more responsible than bailouts being discussed in Congress right now, the former Governor said.

“The federal government should be a safety net for those who need it most. But even in times of crisis, we can’t forget about fiscal responsibility,” Scott wrote. “We have $23 trillion in debt and trillion-dollar annual deficits, which will have long-term negative impacts on our children and grandchildren.”

But Scott stressed the best solution remains containing COVID-19 by enforcing social distancing measures and increasing testing. Notably, Scott called for a closure of all Florida beaches earlier this week. He was joined by Florida’s 13 Congressional Democrats but no fellow Republicans in the Delegation.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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