In this COVID-19 war, pay “front-line” workers a “combat allowance.”

If we really believe we are in a war with COVID-19 then the front-line workers are the soldiers we send to the front-lane, who actively engage in combat with the COVID-19 enemy. The front-line workers should receive a “combat allowances” just as soldiers actively engaged in combat.

In the military, soldiers actively engaged in combat receive a “combat allowance” necessary for the efficient performance of duty. Generally speaking, pay is income, while allowances are reimbursements. The Court of Claims decided in Jones v. The United States that military allowances are not “of a compensatory character” and “not income as well”. Therefore, those allowances are not income, they cannot be taxed, divided, or garnished.

I have inserted details about how the military calculate compat allowances:

Title 37 U.S.C. 1009 provides a permanent formula for an automatic annual military pay raise that indexes the raise to the annual increase in the Employment Cost Index (ECI). The Fiscal Year 2010 President’s Budget request for a 2.9% military pay raise was consistent with this formula. However, Congress, in financial years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009 approved the pay raise as the ECI increase plus 0.5%. The 2007 pay raise was equal to the ECI. (FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Policy Issues, Congressional Research Service)

A military pay raise larger than the permanent formula is not uncommon. In addition to across-the-board pay raises for all military personnel, mid-year, targeted pay raises (targeted at specific grades and longevity) have also been authorized over the past several years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_pay#Common_Allowances provides more details on how to caclulate “combat allownaces.”

Specifically, I propose that that following work category receive a “combat allow”

  • health-care workers directing treating patients, which excludes hospital administration.
  • grocery store workers of all types, excluding grocery store management unless they work in a grocery store.
  • pharmacy workers who come into contact with the public to dispense medications, excepting the management of pharmacies unless they come into direct contact with “front-line” pharmacists.
  • truckers who transport and supply essential goods, such as protective wear for health-care workers, and who ship goods to grocery stores and drug stores.
  • police and other first responders.

To accelerate payment of these “combat-allowances” to the “front-line” workers, I propose they get paid through the companies where they work rather than directly from the Federal Government. The IRS can audit the companies to assure that the payments have gone to the “front-workers” and that the companies never withheld those funds.

Good wishes and praise for these “front-line” workers will never pay their bills. They need cash contributions, more thah a pat on the back however genuine the praise.

If you agree with this concept and how to implement it then please communicate that to your House Representation in Congress as well as your Senator.