Millions of Americans will directly receive benefits from The American Rescue Plan, which was passed by the Democratic Senate, strictly along partisan lines, 50-49. Democrats did not need Vice President Kamala Harris's tie breaking vote due to Dan Sullivan, the Republican Senator from Alaska, not voting because of a personal matter.
The $1.9 TRILLION bill is a huge win for the new Biden administration and Democrats who campaigned they would pass legislation to help combat the economic and health issues brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will go back to the House of Representatives where it's expected to pass.
The bill is one of the largest pieces of legislation ever passed. Not a single Republican voted for the bill in the House or Senate. Republican members of Congress have argued the bill is too big and complained that it's a Progressive wish list jammed into a COVID-19 bill. However, polling has shown a majority of Americans, including Republicans, favor a stimulus bill.
Here we breakdown some of the main points of the legislation.
Direct Payments to Americans
Individuals who file their taxes as single and made $75,000 or less on their 2019 tax return would receive $1,400, which would be on top of the $600 sent out in December. This would bring the total to $2,000, as promised by Joe Biden and Democrats. What's new is the checks get phased out at $80,000. Previously, it was phased out at $100,000
Couples who file a joint tax return and made $150,000 or less combined would receive $1,400 each/$2,800 all together. What's new is the checks get phased out at $160,000 Previously, it was phased out at $200,000
Each child (up to age 17) is an additional $1,400 if you meet the income qualifications, and adult dependents (your broke ass college kid for example) are also eligible. This means a family of 4, if they meet the criteria, can receive up to $5,600. A family with 2 parents, 2 kids and a dependent adult would receive $7,000 if they meet the income criteria.
IF YOU MADE LESS MONEY IN 2020 THAN IN 2019 AND YOU ARE INELIGIBLE FOR THE STIMULUS PAYMENTS BECAUSE CURRENTLY IT’S BASED OFF 2019 TAX RETURNS, WHEN YOU FILE YOUR 2020 TAX RETURN, THERE WILL BE A WAY FOR YOU TO CLAIM THIS STIMULUS MONEY
Unemployment Insurance and Child Tax Credit
Nearly 19 million Americans are receiving Unemployment Benefits. $300 per week will be provided for unemployment benefits through the end of September
The Child Tax Credit increases to $3,000 per child, ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 for each child under 6. This is extraordinary as it will cut child poverty IN HALF. Nearly 13 MILLION CHILDREN will be lifted out of poverty due to this child tax credit increase
The entire amount would be refundable in 2021, meaning recipients will get the full amount by check for any portion not used to offset federal income tax liability
State and Local Government Funding
Nearly $350 billion for state and local governments. This is a massive departure from the Trump administrations stance on funding state and local governments. Trump and other Republicans wanted local governments to lay off teachers, cops (literally defund the police) because they saw this as a blue vs red state issue. According to them, this was a bailout for badly run blue states. This logic made no sense because states like New York contribute MORE to federal funding than they take in and wouldn't have needed this funding had it not been for the pandemic.
The $350 billion will be distributed to states based on the number of unemployed citizens in that state. New York, for example, would receive about $24 billion. One rebuttal to this methodology is that some states can say they stayed open throughout the pandemic and are being punished for it by staying open. By staying open, they would have less unemployed people, and in return, get less money from the state and local aid that would've been provided from The American Rescue Plan
This state and local funding would help states, like New York, cover their massive budget deficits from pandemic related shutdowns. It will prevent tax hikes, layoffs and service cuts
Public Transit and Transportation
Public transportation systems across the country have been decimated by lower revenues because of the pandemic. Ain't nobody tryna ride the subway next to unvaccinated heathens (this is a joke, but actually, not a joke). The bill provides nearly $90 billion to transportation and infrastructure related issues
Nearly $10 billion to airlines so that you can take Spirit Airlines again and then realize you will never take Spirit Airlines again
Nearly $20 billion will be used to fund vaccine distribution and supply chains across the country. This will help the country vaccinate nearly 200 million American adults, especially in rural communities that don't have the infrastructure to administer vaccines. Currently, some folks need to travel hundreds of miles to get to a vaccine center because their area doesn't have the capacity to have one
Nearly $50 billion will be used to fund Covid-19 testing
More than $100 billion will be set aside for schools. This will help schools modernize their ventilation systems, buy PPE for staff and other measures
This will help kids get back in the classrooms so that their parents, who have been stuck in the house with their kids for the last 12 months, can get drunk at 8:30am on a Tuesday
The American Rescue Plan sets aside $25 billion in grants to bars and restaurants. This part of the bill is known as the Restaurants Revitalization Fund
Restaurants can't have more than 20 locations to qualify
About 20% of the funding is set aside only for restaurants that had less than $500,000 worth of revenue in 2019
The bills adds additional funds into the PPP program that was implemented last year
Rent, Mortgages, Food, Healthcare
$30 billion for rental assistance
$10 billion for mortgage assistance
Billions of dollars for school kids to get food benefits on an EBT Card
Increasing the Affordable Care Acts tax credit so that it reduces the premiums
How are we going to pay for all of this?
I don't know
This is literally phantom money being generated by the Federal government. Long story short, the Federal Reserve is buying all the bonds Congress has approved for the stimulus packages. Doing this keeps interest rates low. If interest rates are low, it makes borrowing money cheaper.
The federal government is borrowing money from the Federal Reserve to pay for all this. If interest rates were to rise, it would make borrowing this money extremely expensive. Medicaid, Social Security and other government programs wouldn't be able to be funded by the government in the future because they would be paying back interest instead.
In theory, taxes generated through re-opening the economy would help offset all the borrowing the federal government is doing. It's far riskier to not do anything and let people starve, become homeless and become unemployed than to pass this large stimulus package.
Years down the road, the deficit will finally catch up to us, but right now, none of that matters so long as we get the economy going, food on people's plates, the vaccine in people's arms, businesses to open up and for the MTA to suck but not as much as it could suck if The American Rescue Plan isn't passed.