☀️ Skinny – August 20 2020



Happy Thursday.

In Case You Missed It: President Obama teared up when he offered a stark warning during his DNC speech last night. You can watch a clip of his remarks here.

Coronavirus Update: Total confirmed U.S. cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,529,933 — Total deaths: 173,181 — Total recoveries:  1,925,049

Slower mail could leave patients without the prescription drugs they need.

In Today’s Newsletter:

  • Republicans introduce a smaller stimulus
  • IRS issues tiny, tiny, tiny refunds
  • Salesforce stays home


Program Rate Change APR Change
30 year 3.27% 0.16% 3.34% 0.16%
15 year 2.70% 0.04% 2.85% 0.03%

The Lead: Skinny Stimulus

credit: giphy

Congress is no longer fighting about a full-blown stimulus bill. Instead, they are fighting on a stimulus bill, lite. Like a Coke Zero. It’s a thing, but it’s not a thing of much substance.

This new bill was prompted into action by the emergency protective legislation for the US Post Office. There is bi-partisan support to support the mail so lawmakers decided that maybe they could start there with what they agree upon and tack on some other emergency measures.

The new draft reduces unemployment benefits from $600 per week to $300 per week. It leaves out student loan deferment, which was included in President Trump’s executive orders, although the execution of this deferment has been a bit fuzzy for borrowers. It also includes another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money and funds for COVID testing and schools.

Bottom Line 

The price tag on the new bill comes to $500 billion, half of the $1 trillion it had originally proposed in the HEALS Act. They still have to get Democrats to agree to it but perhaps if they pitch it as “let’s do this for now and then go round again in a few weeks” then they’ll have a deal? It’s better than the alternative we’ve got, which is no stimulus and lawmakers on vacation. The House meets Saturday to vote on the USPS relief package, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated he might not be game to approve this one either.

What’s next?

What a mess! Even if this lite bill passes, we’ll watch the two parties fight again over another one in a matter of weeks because we are no closer to eradicating COVID. It all feels like a bad joke.

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Did Hell Just Freeze Over?

credit: getty

The IRS announced that it will pay interest on refunds that were sent to taxpayers after the April 15 deadline. The average payout will be about $18. Who needs a stimulus!?

Jokes aside, this is a forthcoming move from the taxman. If you were owed a refund on April 15, and the government was late due to the pandemic, this is an acknowledgment that you are entitled to interest on the money they held, however long.

The interest rate was calculated with a quarterly rate that was set by law, which was 5% for the quarter that ended June 30 and 3% for the quarter that ended September 30.

If you are the lucky recipient of this money, don’t spend it all at once. Especially since anyone who gets a payment over $10 will receive 1099 for it so this money will be taxed.

News By The Numbers

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75%. That’s the percentage of Americans that say it’s likely that Russia or other governments will try to influence the 2020 election. I want to know who the 25% are that don’t think that.

55%. That’s the percentage of adult social media users say they feel “worn out” by how many political posts and discussions they see on social media, according to a Pew Research Center survey. I want to know who the 45% are that aren’t worn out?

1/3.  One-third of U.S. adults have watched religious services online or on television in the past month, and a little over half of them – or 18% of all adults – say they began doing this for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic. Will this be the new normal?

Salesforce Staycation

giphy.gif credit: associated press

Salesforce has committed to keeping workers at home until at least next August – as in one year from now! It is a nice gesture, albeit a depressing one to think we could still be living like this a year from now!

In addition to working from home, employees are eligible for $100 per workday to help pay for childcare and $250 per year to pay for home office supplies. They are also expanding family care leave for an additional six weeks of paid time off.

The company had dappled in letting employees back to work in June in California but then California’s COVID numbers worsened and now the state is on fire so, yeah, no reason to rush the gun on that one.

REI Needs a Realtor

credit: nbbj

REI was set to open its dream office park this summer, complete with a blueberry bog, fire pit, and other play-based amenities for the outdoor-loving company and crew. Instead, the building is now listed for sale.

Outdoor Magazine estimates that this is not just because of hard times for the premium outdoor gear store. It is also an indication of a permanent shift for employees working from home.

REI did have a hard time with the shutdown in the spring, laying off 300 corporate and 400 retail employees. The summer has been pretty great for the store, however, with customers rushing in to buy outdoor gear in search of a safe way to recreate with their families. We did the same thing! We estimated that any sporting goods we bought would be cheaper than the vacation we did not take so we gave our kids an afternoon with a blank check in an outdoor store and ended up with new hiking boots, stand-up paddleboards, jump ropes, and soccer goals. We are happy to report that all but the soccer goals have been used. But we digress.

Despite strong summer sales, REI has not been able to make up for the nonexistent spring sales. The company says it is not selling the HQ building in a fire sale and are hoping for a fair retail price. Facebook is reported to be an interested buyer.

Grover’s Corner

credit: getty

A new proposed law in Germany would mandate that all dog owners walk their pets at least twice a day for at least 30 minutes at a time.

“Pets are not cuddly toys — and their needs have to be considered,” Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said about her proposal.

The law would also set a maximum temperature where dogs can be kept, preventing dogs from being kept in extreme heat. It would also forbid them from being chained up and left alone all day. The Agriculture Ministry said that it used scientific research about dogs’ needs” to come up with these guidelines.

Not everyone is for this. Experts point out that some dogs are not well enough for this much exercise for age or health reasons. Surely there would be made an exception but Grover approves of the spirit behind this law. Not having regular walks is Ruff!

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