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Why the employee retention credit is an overlooked stimulus issue

D.C. remains deadlocked on the next stimulus package, days after extended unemployment benefits ended and days before PPP is set to expire.

Where it stands: One unresolved issue that hasn't gotten enough attention is a proposed expansion of the employee retention credit, which could have a significant impact for companies that have experienced severe revenue declines.


The backdrop: The CARES Act established the initial version, a refundable payroll tax credit that could cover up to $5,000 per employee, for businesses that had suffered at least 50% revenue loss.

  • Caveat #1: If a company received a PPP loan, it wasn't eligible.
  • Caveat #2: If a company had more than 100 employees who remained working full time, including remotely, it wasn't eligible.
  • Caveat conclusion: For most companies, this credit wasn't too valuable.

What's new: Both new stimulus plans — HEROES Act (D), HEALS Act (R) — are much more generous.

  • HEROES increases the credit to up to $36k per employee (or up to 80% of wages paid per retained employee), with sliding-scale revenue eligibility for companies with revenue drop of between 10% and 50%. It increases the limit on working employees to 1,500.
  • HEALS increases the credit to up to $30k per employee (or up to 65% of wages paid per retained employee), with the revenue decline threshold cut to 25%. It increases the limit on working employees to 500.
  • Neither proposal restricts companies that received PPP loans, although they're silent on companies that participate in a possible PPP extension.

The bottom line: There are still partisan differences, but both sides are moving in the same direction on this, which suggests more flexibility than on thornier issues like school funding and liability protections.

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee set to start Oct. 12

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee are tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 12, two Senate sources familiar with the plans told Axios.

Why it matters: The committee's current schedule could allow Senate Republicans to confirm the nominee weeks before November's election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell currently has enough votes to confirm Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is expected as the president's pick.

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A hinge moment for America's role in the world

The world may be living through the last gasps of America First— or just getting a taste of what's to come.

Why it matters: President Trump's message at this week's virtual UN General Assembly was short and relatively simple: global institutions like the World Health Organization are weak and beholden to China; international agreements like the Iran deal or Paris climate accord are "one-sided"; and the U.S. has accomplished more by going its own way.

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New York daily coronavirus cases top 1,000 for first time since June

New York on Friday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the first since June.

Why it matters: The New York City metropolitan area was seen as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the spring. But strict social distancing and mask mandates helped quell the virus' spread, allowing the state to gradually reopen.

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America on edge as SCOTUS, protests and 2020 collide

Rarely have national security officials, governors, tech CEOs and activists agreed as broadly and fervently as they do about the possibility of historic civil unrest in America.

Why it matters: The ingredients are clear for all to see — epic fights over racism, abortion, elections, the virus and policing, stirred by misinformation and calls to action on social media, at a time of stress over the pandemic.

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The long-term pain of the mental health pandemic

A less visible but still massive trauma caused by the coronavirus is becoming clear: our mental health is suffering with potentially long-lasting consequences.

Why it matters: Mental health disorders that range from schizophrenia to depression and anxiety exert a severe cost on personal health and the economy. Addressing that challenge may require out-of-the-box solutions.

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Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews Bob Woodward

On the next episode of "Axios on HBO," journalist Bob Woodward tells Axios National Political Correspondent Jonathan Swan why he spoke out about President Trump being the "wrong man for the job."

  • "I did not want to join the ranks of the Senate Republicans who know that Trump is the wrong man for the job, but won't say it publicly," Woodward said.

Catch the full interview on Monday, Sept. 28 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.

Trump picks Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett — expected to be named by President Trump today to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, and an edge on issues from abortion to the limits of presidential power.

The big picture: Republicans love the federal appeals court judge's age — she is only 48 — and her record as a steadfast social conservative.

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Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

Via Joe Biden for President

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

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