Following an arduous process of coming to an agreement, the House approved the $900 billion stimulus package. Although the package includes funds to help households and businesses amidst the global pandemic, most believe it is not nearly enough to make a dent in the lives of those who have already lost everything.
On Monday, December 21, 2020, just four days before Christmas, which Americans have been urged by medical professionals as well as politicians to refrain from gathering, the house approved the package. The direct payments will begin to go to American homes by the beginning of next week, according to Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary. Although this package is around half of the stimulus package earlier this year, it will provide much-needed relief to those on unemployment, as well as a one-time $600 payment to every adult and child under 17-years-old. This payment is cut in half for adults and increased by $100 for minors from the stimulus check in March. Those who are 17-years-old will not receive any stimulus payment, not as an adult and not as a minor.
Those single adults who earn up to $75,000 will receive the $600 payment, and married couples making up to $150,000 will receive $600 each. Those receiving unemployment benefits will receive an increase of $300 a week, until March 1. With recent job losses, small businesses going out of business, and others simply trying to navigate through the changes in everyday living the majority is saying it is just not enough. A Victorville woman shared her frustration while helping her now-struggling adult child and grandchildren. “I think it’s an absurd amount of money compared to what people are losing in this pandemic,” said Laura Alicia. “$600 isn’t much when you’re 6 months behind on car payments, you lost your film editing job, lost your home, and have to feed your family of 6.” As Americans waited for an agreement, which was expected to happen during the fall, more families lost what may have been saved as negotiations moved at the pace of molasses with little regard for American families losing their livelihood.
President Trump appeared to use the stimulus policy like a carrot holding it above the heads of starving rabbits during his campaign. On October 6, 2020, President Trump abruptly stopped all negotiations and tweeted, “ I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.”
Another change from the March 2020 Stimulus package and the current Stimulus package is that mixed-status households are now eligible for relief. The March 2020 package did not provide relief to legal immigrants without a green card or American citizens married to an immigrant who did not have a green card. Those with the mixed-status did not receive any relief, not even for their children. This round of payments will faster than the last when some of the payments took over a month in March. Those who received delayed payments were those who received Social Security benefits and others who received payments that did not require that they filed tax returns.
Aside from the direct payments, funds are going to assist in the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, testing, tracing, and mitigation programs. In addition, funds will be allocated to assist with those needing rental assistance, and for nutrition services. Schools, both primary and secondary, and college, both public, and private will receive additional funds.
The Paycheck Protection Program will have additional funds to loan to businesses including nonprofit, news organizations, and entertainment-related businesses, who had to close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was established in order to assist businesses in keeping their employees employed and paid. These are no-fee, forgivable loans offered to businesses who meet the employee-retention requirements.
Although most believe that it is just not enough to help American’s suffering job loss, the loss of their businesses, and even for some, their homes. Some believe it is enough and that people receiving it are fortunate to be receiving the $600 per person payment. “I feel its more than enough because this “shut down” isn’t the same as before,” said Jennifer Hernandez. “Many companies are hiring and can’t find anyone that wants to work. You can’t depend on handouts and 600 a person is way better than nothing.”
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