Americans earning over $75,000 May Not Qualify For Next Stimulus Under New Proposal

WASHINGTON — As President Joe Biden pushes for another round of stimulus payments for most Americans, calls are escalating to target the aid solely to low- and moderate-income families, and new data suggests that it would provide the most needed and effective boost for the economy.

Families earning under about $75,000 typically spend the money quickly, according to a new analysis of how Americans are using the $600 payments this month, a study by Opportunity Insights, a nonprofit research organization. Families earning above that threshold typically save the stimulus payment, which provides little help to the overall economy and signals that the money was not as urgently needed.

Lawmakers from both major political parties lobbied the White House over the weekend for a less costly relief package that would only send stimulus payments to the most needy. Under Biden’s proposal, most U.S. households would receive $1,400 payments.

“Targeting the stimulus payments to lower-income households would both better support the households most in need and provide a large boost to the economy in the short run,” said John Friedman, an economics professor at Brown University and co-director of Opportunity Insights. “These checks are really impactful for lower-income households.”

Friedman, Harvard University economics professor Raj Chetty and economist Michael Stepner analyzed credit and debit card data and found a clear rise in spending for families and individuals who earn less than about $50,000 after the stimulus payments started to widely hit bank accounts on Jan. 4. Spending barely moved for families and individuals earning more than $78,000.

The price tag to send another round of checks to couples earning more than $75,000 and singles earning more than $50,000 would be $200 billion, yet the researchers estimate that this group would spend $14 billion of that money — about 7%.

The initial round of $1,200 stimulus checks in the spring saw some increase in spending across all income levels, Friedman and Chetty say, but this second stimulus is revealing a wide gap. That’s probably because the recession is largely over for the rich, while poorer households are still deep in it. The Federal Reserve says unemployment for low-wage workers is still about 20% — a near depression-like state.

“We’re seeing a pretty similar effect in how low-income households spent the stimulus in the first and second rounds and a smaller spending impact for high-income households,” Friedman said. “Low-income household have suffered by far the biggest economic shock. They need the help the most.”

Their findings are backed up by other surveys and analyses of how people used their first stimulus payments. The U.S. Census found households with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 “were more likely to use their stimulus payments to pay off debt or to add to savings, compared to households overall.” Nearly 88% of households with less than $25,000 intended to spend the stimulus.

Andrew Rafner, 32, has been unemployed since mid-March after working at a comic book shop in Los Angeles. He and his girlfriend have struggled to pay bills at times. The stimulus check he just received was a lifeline for food and rent.

“It’s been nice to go to grocery store and not really have to worry about what to eat,” Rafner said.

Netspend, a prepaid debit card company, said it processed more than $850 million stimulus payments in January for about 900,000 customers. Prepaid debit card users tend to be lower income, and Netspend confirmed that most of the money has been spent quickly for basic necessities such as food and gas.

“For the first and second round of individual stimulus payments, Netspend saw its customers spend funds quickly,” said Netspend spokesman Adam Dawes. “Consistent with the first round of individual stimulus payments, these customers are using their funds to make purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies and gas stations.”

Some lawmakers and economists have suggested that the stimulus checks are a waste of money and that the government would be better off focusing aid on unemployed. But many workers who have been able to return to jobs say they are struggling to get the hours and pay they once did.

Betty Laribo is a nurse’s aide in Morgantown, W.Va. Before the pandemic hit, she was working “per diem” and had no trouble getting booked as many days as she wanted at health-care facilities that needed extra help. Now she says she’s lucky to get a day’s work every two weeks.

As a single mom of four kids who are all in virtual schooling, Laribo is doing what she can to get by. She had fallen three months behind on her car payment and was worried about losing it until her stimulus payment arrived Friday.

“I paid my rent, my car payment and got groceries for the house and a few fun things for my kids,” said Laribo, a military veteran. “A lot of us are still working, but our hours have been so drastically affected by COVID that we might as well be unemployed.”

Laribo said it’s frustrating that people earning as much as $75,000 a year were receiving the same stimulus payment that she was.

Eligibility details for a proposed third round of payments have not been worked out, but individuals earning up to $87,000 a year and married couples earning up to $174,000 a year received at least some money in the second round of stimulus payments that Congress passed over the holidays. About 160 million households probably will get a payment.

Some people who received a payment in January have posted on social media that they did not need the money and are donating it to charity.

“Stimulus checks arrived, time for a big food bank donation,” tweeted one woman last week.

But data indicates that most people who did not need the money right away are saving the stimulus payment or using it to pay off student loan, credit card or mortgage debt.


Heather Long of the Washington Post contributed to the contents of this report.

WHO WILL BLINK? White House Ups Offer to Nearly $1.9 Trillion Ahead of Tuesday Stimulus Deadline

WASHINGTON– White House Chief of staff Mark Meadows announced Monday that the White House has increased its stimulus offer as the Tuesday deadline to secure a deal before the election reaches its final hours.

“We’ve increased our offer up to almost $1.9 trillion,” Meadows told reporters on Monday morning. “[The president] is willing to give some additional money in terms of direct payments, he’s willing to give some additional money in terms of PPP to restaurants and hotels and small businesses.”

The White House announcement comes in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s incistence that a deal must be reached by Tuesday in order for legislation to have a chance of passing before the election. Pelosi — who spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the weekend and is expected to talk with him again on Monday — said while there’s been progress, no deal has yet been reached.

“While there was some encouraging news, much work remains,” Pelosi said in a statement Sunday. “I am optimistic that we can reach agreement before the election.”

Pelosi, (D-CA), has proposed a $2.2 trillion package that the White House has steadfastly rejected.

DEAL OR NO DEAL? Pelosi, Mnuchin Continue COVID-19 Talks Despite Dwindling Odds

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — The top negotiators fighting for a deal on emergency coronavirus relief spoke again on Wednesday as they face increasingly dismal odds to secure an agreement before Election Day.

The hourlong phone call between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was a “productive” one, according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, citing a focused effort to find “clarification on language” — a reference to assurances sought by Democrats that new funding allocated by Congress will be spent on intended programs.

But a deal remains a long shot, as Democrats have held firm to their $2.2 trillion demand; Senate Republicans have balked at even the $1.8 trillion proposal from the White House; and President Trump has confused the debate with a stream of mixed messages regarding what he supports.

“One major area of disagreement continues to be that the White House lacks an understanding of the need for a national strategic testing plan,” Hammill tweeted. “The Speaker believes we must reopen our economy & schools safely & soon, & scientists agree we must have a strategic testing plan.”

Speaking at a public conference shortly after his call with Pelosi, Mnuchin noted the distinct divisions blocking a deal, emphasizing entrenched differences remain over both the amount of new spending and the policy areas it should target.

“I don’t agree with the Speaker’s approach that we have to do all or nothing,” Mnuchin said in an interview with the Milken Institute. He added that securing and executing a deal before the elections “would be difficult just given where we are and the level of detail.”

Another area of disagreement is how much aid should be extended to state and local governments, which are struggling to fund the emergency response to the pandemic while simultaneously being squeezed by a loss of tax revenue.

Democrats had proposed $436 billion in aid for those localities, while the White House countered with $300 billion. Mnuchin on Wednesday said that number marked “an extraordinary compromise” on the part of the administration, suggesting the White House is not ready to raise its offer.

Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) said Democrats are also wary of how the state and local funds are allocated. He accused Republicans of manipulating the language in earlier rounds of emergency relief to ensure that red states benefited disproportionately.

“This is one place where the details matter a lot,” Foster said on a press call. “A small town in Wyoming or Montana got, I think, five times more money than a small town in Illinois.”

Another sticking point surrounds GOP demands for language protecting businesses and schools from liability if workers or students contract the virus — a demand Mnuchin amplified Wednesday.

Democrats are insisting that those liability protections be excluded, and appear equally unyielding in that demand.

“I think that it should be a dealbreaker for us to leave it in there,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). “We have to make sure that there is some accountability for safety of workers. And right now, that’s now where they are.”

The persistent disagreements have diminished the chances that the sides can reach a deal before the elections. And Trump, who has remained on the sidelines during the talks, has only muddled the debate.


The Hill’s Mike Lillis contributed to the contents of this report.

COVID: Trump Wars With Senate GOP Over Trillion Dollar Package

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump insisted “good things” were underway on the next COVID-19 aid package Monday as he met with Republican congressional leaders, but new divisions between the Senate GOP and the White House posed fresh challenges as the crisis worsened and emergency relief was soon expiring.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been prepared to roll out the $1 trillion package in a matter of days. But the administration criticized more virus testing money and interjected other priorities that could complicate quick passage.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Trump said as the meeting got underway.

But the president acknowledged the “big flare up” of rising caseloads and deaths in the states. “Unfortunately, this is something that’s very tough,” he said.

Lawmakers were returning to a Capitol still off-limits to tourists, another sign of the nation’s difficulty containing the coronavirus. Rather than easing, the pandemic’s devastating cycle is rising again, leaving Congress little choice but to engineer another costly rescue. Businesses are shutting down again, many schools will not fully reopen and jobs are disappearing, all while federal aid will soon expire.

Without a successful federal strategy, lawmakers are trying to draft one.

“We have to end this virus,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday on MSNBC.

Pelosi said any attempt by the White House to block money for testing “goes beyond ignorance.”

The political stakes are high for both parties before the November election, and even more so for the nation, which now has registered more coronavirus infections and a higher death count of 140,500 than any other country.

McConnell and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy huddled with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Mnuchin vowed passage by month’s end, as earlier benefits expire, and said he expected the fresh $1 trillion jolt of business tax breaks and other aid would have a “big impact” on the struggling economy.

Mnuchin said he’s preparing to start talks with Democrats. He and Meadows were headed to the Hill later to brief lawmakers.

“We can’t pass the bill in the Senate without the Democrats and we’re going to talk to them as well,” McConnell agreed.

The package from McConnell had been quietly crafted behind closed doors for weeks and was expected to include $75 billion to help schools reopen, reduced unemployment benefits and a fresh round of direct $1,200 cash payments to Americans, and a sweeping five-year liability shield against coronavirus lawsuits.

But as the administration was panning some $25 billion in proposed new funds for testing and tracing, said one Republican familiar with the discussions. Trump was also reviving his push for a payroll tax break, which was being seriously considered, said another Republican. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks.

Trump insisted again Sunday that the virus would “disappear,” but the president’s view did not at all match projections from the leading health professionals straining to halt the alarming U.S. caseload and death toll.

“It’s not going to magically disappear,” said a somber McConnell, R-Ky., last week during a visit to a hospital in his home state to thank front-line workers.

McConnell also faces divisions from some in his ranks who oppose more spending, and he is straining to keep the package at $1 trillion.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer warned Monday his side will block any effort from McConnell that falls short.

“We will stand together again if we must,” Schumer said in a letter to colleagues.

The New York Democrat is reviving his strategy from the last virus aid bill that forced Republicans to the negotiating table after McConnell’s original bill was opposed by Democrats. This time, the House has already approved Pelosi’s sweeping $3 trillion effort, giving Democrats momentum heading into negotiations.

Trump raised alarms on Capitol Hill when he suggested last month at a rally in Oklahoma that he wanted to slow virus testing. Some of Trump’s GOP allies wanted new money to help test and track the virus to contain its spread. Senate Democrats were investigating why the Trump administration had not yet spent some of $25 billion previously allocated.

The payroll tax break Trump wanted also divided his party because it historically has been used used to fund Social Security and Medicare. Cutting it only adds to the nation’s rising debt load at a time when conservatives are wary of any new spending. Some Republicans also see it as an insufficient response to millions of out-of-work Americans.

This would be the fifth virus aid package, after the $2.2 trillion bill passed in March, the largest U.S. intervention of its kind.

While many GOP hoped the virus would ease and economy rebound, it’s become clear more aid is needed as the first round of relief is running out.

A federal $600-a-week boost to regular unemployment benefits would expire at the end of the month. So, too, would the federal ban on evictions from millions of rental units.

With 17 straight weeks of unemployment claims topping 1 million — usually about 200,000 — many households are facing a cash crunch and losing employer-backed health insurance.

Despite flickers of an economic upswing as states eased stay-at-home orders in May and June, the jobless rate remained at double digits, higher than it ever was in the last decade’s Great Recession.

Pelosi’s bill, approved in May, includes $75 billion for testing and tracing to try to get a handle on the virus spread, funnels $100 billion to schools to safely reopen and calls for $1 trillion to be sent to cash-strapped states to pay essential workers and prevent layoffs. The measure would give cash stipends to Americans, and bolster rental and mortgage and other safety net protections.

In the two months since Pelosi’s bill passed, the U.S. had 50,000 more deaths and 2 million more infections.

“If we don’t invest the money now, it will be much worse,” Pelosi said.


Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Andrew Taylor contributed to the contents of this report.

TRUMP: ‘Generous’ Second Round of Stimulus Checks For the American People on the Way

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday said he supports the idea of giving Americans another round of stimulus checks to help bolster the economy and get those impacted by the Coronavirus back on their feet.

In an interview with Scripps Networks, the president said he would approve sending Americans a second check and hinted that the payments may arrive sooner rather than later.

“We had this going better than anybody’s ever seen before, Trump said. “We had the best job numbers, the best economics, the best economy we’ve ever had, and then we had the virus come in from China. Now we’re rebuilding it again. We will be doing another stimulus package. It’ll be very good, it’ll be very generous.”

When asked when the next set of checks may be approved, the president replied, “Over the next couple of weeks probably.”

A bipartisan bill in Congress authorized payments of up to $1,200 each to millions of Americans, with additional payments of $500 per child, in legislation that Trump signed into law in March.

Since then another $3 trillion bill that passed the House of Representatives on May 15 authorized a second round of economic stimulus payments of up to $6,000 per U.S. household.

Lawmakers are not expected to vote on another Coronavirus bill until sometime in July.

REPORT: White House Pushing for $2T Stimulus Prior to Election

WASHINGTON — White House officials are pressing congressional leaders to approve a fourth Coronavirus-related stimulus package totaling much as $2 trillion in direct aid to Americans prior to the election, Fox Business is reporting.

Citing unidentified sources within the Trump administration, Fox claims the plan could include payroll tax cuts, which have been heavily pushed for by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and aid to Democrat-controlled states such as California, Illinois and New York.

Additional perks of the package would reportedly include infrastructure spending, an extension of unemployment benefits to Americans impacted by the first wave of Coronavirus and additional liability protections for businesses as they attempt to reopen should a possible “second wave” of infections from the Coronavirus occur.

According to Fox, administration officials believe the timing is key and that such a package would drive the unemployment rate to below 10%, boosting President Donald Trump’s odds of a landslide reelection. Last week the economy reported a 2.5 million increase in new jobs and unemployment for May fell to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent in April, when the shutdown was at it’s max. On Tuesday, another key economic improvement was reported as retail sales showed an 18 percent increase in May.

When reached for statement, both White House officials and representatives for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had no comment.

POLL: American voters overwhelmingly approve of Trump stimulus package

WASHINGTON– A newly released Rasmussen poll suggests registered voters overwhelmingly approve of the stimulus package put forth by the Trump administration in response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The $2 trillion package, which was created to aid American workers and businesses impacted by the virus, is the largest economic rescue bill ever created in history.

According to the poll, released Tuesday, 83% of Likely U.S. voters approve of the aid package. Only 10% disapprove.

The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted March 29-30. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Most qualifying American households can expect to receive payouts of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples. Households with children also qualify for an additional $500 per child.

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