'Patriot Pay': Mitt Romney Proposes $12/Hour Bonus for U.S. Essential Workers Through July

Utah Senator Mitt Romney proposed a $12-an-hour bonus for coronavirus pandemic essential workers--ranging from hospital employees to grocery store staff--dubbing the added compensation for their health risk as "Patriot Pay."

Romney on Friday proposed the temporary bonus for U.S. essential workers who make less than $90,000 annually, saying three-quarters of the $12 hourly bonus would be paid by the federal government and the remaining one-quarter would be paid by their respective employers. The plan is funded through a refundable payroll tax credit, which employers must opt into and maxes out at $1,440 per month and per employee for May, June and July. Full-time workers would receive up to a $1,920 monthly bonus, 75 percent of which would be refunded to their employer.

The Republican senator noted Friday that part of his proposal is aimed at making sure essential workers are being paid as much, if not more, than people at home who are receiving unemployment benefits. Essential workers who make more than $50,000 a year are eligible under Romney's "Patriot Pay" plan, with staggered reductions in available tax credits extending up to people who make as much as $90,000 annually.

"I think this is a matter of fundamental fairness," Romney said during a virtual Zoom press briefing Friday.

"These people are taking a health risk providing food for us at our grocery stores, driving our buses and transit vehicles, making sure we have the health care we need at hospitals and clinics, and keeping our hospitals clean -- all of these frontline workers get additional compensation and it's also designed to make sure that the people who are working to care for us are actually making as much money, or more money, than those who are on unemployment," the Utah senator continued.

The U.S. Department of Labor and Congress are tasked with designating the critical industries and who exactly falls under the title of "essential worker." Romney's Senate proposal says such jobs include, but are not limited to, hospital staff, food distributors and processors and health care manufacturers. Eligible employers would need to certify that their employees have worked in conditions that increased their potential exposure to coronavirus.

"America's frontline workers are keeping us safe, healthy, and fed during the #COVID19 crisis. #PatriotPay would make sure they're rewarded for it," Romney tweeted Friday, linking to his website that lays out the Senate proposal.

America’s frontline workers are keeping us safe, healthy, and fed during the #COVID19 crisis. #PatriotPay would make sure they’re rewarded for it. https://t.co/NCznX3VgVc

— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) May 1, 2020

Employees deemed eligible for Romney's tax credit plan must work 100 hours each month that they receive the bonus, which ends in July.

The senator provided the following Utah-centric example for how his proposal would work: "A grocery store in Provo, Utah could opt into Patriot Pay to give their workers a $12/hour bonus. The employer would contribute $3, while the federal benefit would add $9, meaning a $10/hour worker would receive a $5,760 bonus from May 1 through the end of July. The grocery store worker's weekly paycheck would include an extra $480."

Newsweek reached out to Romney's Salt Lake City office Saturday afternoon.

mitt romney patriot pay bonus
Utah Senator Mitt Romney proposed a $12-an-hour bonus for all coronavirus pandemic essential workers, ranging from hospital employees to grocery store staff, dubbing the added compensation for their health risk as "Patriot Pay." CHIP SOMODEVILLA / Staff/Getty Images