by Maurie Backman | Feb. 1, 2021
Some lawmakers feel Biden's relief efforts are going overboard and have their own counterproposal.
It's no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has taken a dire toll on Americans, many of whom have lost their jobs and exhausted their savings in the course of the past 10 months. President Joe Biden has made it clear he's eager to send aid to the public quickly -- ideally, within his first 100 days in office. To that end, he's proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package that includes a round of $1,400 stimulus payments.
Americans have already received two rounds of stimulus cash. The first, under the CARES Act, amounted to $1,200. The second $600 check was approved at the tail end of 2020. Biden, however, feels the most recent round fell short. He's looking to put another $1,400 into Americans' bank accounts provided he gets the support of Congress to move his bill forward.
But some lawmakers are concerned Biden's proposal isn't targeted enough. In fact, a group of 10 Republican senators are asking the president to instead consider a stimulus package that includes a $1,000 check.
The reason some lawmakers oppose a round of $1,400 checks is that, like the first two rounds, the cash could go to many Americans who are OK financially. As such, those proposing a $1,000 stimulus are also seeking to lower the phase-out thresholds. That way, fewer higher-income households will receive the money. Under their plan, those checks would start to phase out for single tax filers earning more than $50,000 and for married couples filing joint tax returns earning more than $100,000.
By comparison, the income thresholds used for the first two stimulus rounds were notably higher -- $75,000 for single tax filers and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. Of course, other factors play into stimulus eligibility, like the number of dependents a given household has. But either way, those who want more targeted aid are seeking to change the way stimulus payments are sent out.
Of course, altering those rules could potentially delay the stimulus checks -- and that's something many Americans can't afford. On the other hand, if Biden agrees to $1,000 stimulus checks and a lower income phase-out, it could be enough to secure immediate buy-in from Republicans, whose support is needed to make good on his proposals. And that's reason enough for the president to be open to negotiations.
Biden is scheduled to meet with Republican lawmakers on Feb. 1. Once that happens, we may know more about how much upcoming stimulus cash desperate Americans can expect.
Another issue that may be hashed out is boosted unemployment. Biden wants to extend jobless benefits through September, all the while increasing them by $400 a week. Some lawmakers have expressed concern that too high a boost will disincentivize workers to return to a job. That said, it's worth noting that when the CARES Act boosted unemployment by $600 a week last year, it didn't stop the jobless from seeking work.
Time will tell whether lawmakers can agree to a package that includes boosted and extended unemployment plus a generous stimulus check. If they do, it could do a lot to help many struggling Americans through these very trying times.
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