The Trump administration has signaled its support for quick cash payments to workers hit by the coronavirus fallout as part of an $850 billion stimulus package.

Among other things being discussed is a 90-day delay in paying owed federal income tax.

Direct cash from a Republican administration is a change of tune, for certain. And Sen. Tom Cotton, whom I praised last night, is at the forefront of the charge for cash support.

Here’s his plan for cash payments and low-interest business loans. Example:

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Americans who lose shifts or business during the virus emergency will need our help to make ends meet. We ought to rush checks to working- and middle-class Americans and have them in their mailbox in a matter of days, not weeks. The federal government has done this before to shore up the economy, in 2001 and 2008.

 

• Authorize the Treasury Department to immediately cut a tax-rebate check of $1,000 for every adult tax filer making less than $100,000 per year and $500 for each claimed dependent. Married couples filing jointly that make less than $200,000 per year would be eligible for a $2,000 tax-rebate check.

 

• Eligible filers would receive full rebate checks regardless of tax liability

He’d also make it easier to qualify for food stamps and unemployment benefits. The welcome irony in Arkansas is jaw-dropping. The Hutchinson administration has worked since its inception to curb these costs as well as restricting medical services in a variety of ways. (Today, Hutchinson announced unemployment waivers to make the benefits easier to get.)

Cotton expressed something else with which I find myself in total agreement: The need to move more aggressively in shutting down normal activity as a means of discouraging the rapid spread of the disease and calamitous impact on hospitals.

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The governor and Little Rock mayor have moved cautiously in the direction of shutdown, with school and casino closures and encouragement of various crowd reduction steps. The governor said the spread of the disease doesn’t seem to warrant stronger moves yet. The experience elsewhere seems to favor moving more aggressively before it’s too late.

One demerit:

Cotton (and his wingman state Sen. Trent Garner) continue to play the race card by calling coronavirus the Chinese virus or Wuhan virus, after the places it was first reported. Should we call scourges that originated in the U.S. the American virus? No. We’re all in it together and such labels, which are not used by scientists, promote division. Periodically, Cotton omits the racist label in tweets or other messages in which he’s displaying a rare humane streak. So that’s something.