This is my stimulus update for Monday, December Twenty-First.
Big stimulus news yesterday is that Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi struck a deal, I made a video yesterday breaking down what Nancy Pelosi said is in the deal.
We still have not seen the bill, and at this point it’s likely we won’t see the standalone stimulus bill but the combined government funding omnibus and stimulus bill because that’s how they’re doing it, so we haven’t actually seen the bill, so any reports we have at this point beyond what Nancy Pelosi said in her Dear Colleague Letter and what is in the spreadsheet I put together yesterday based on Pelosi’s letter is simply coming from anonymous sources for various media outlets.
Congress did pass that one-day stopgap measure last night to give themselves another twenty-four hours to get this thing passed along with the government funding, so we have a nine-hundred-billion-dollar stimulus deal, a little bit less than nine hundred billion dollars actually according to McConnell, coupled with a one-point-four-trillion-dollar government spending omnibus, Congress is expected to pass both of these today. House will vote on this first, I have no doubts about this passing in the House, and then the Senate will take it up after that, with all the processes and procedures here, Senate may not actually vote on this until tonight, and it might go late.
Will Sanders and Hawley get in the way of this passing? Well, this morning Josh Hawley tweeted, “The negotiators are saying they could only find enough money for six hundred dollars per person relief checks for working people. But mark my words, there will be hundreds of BILLIONS spent on special interests, banks, and government.”
Will Hawley and Sanders hold this up, I don’t think so, I do think they want to make their voices heard loud and clear here because look some people will say they’re sellouts, is that justifiable or not, you tell me your opinion, don’t want to get into that, but I think they are kind of posturing themselves here as opposed to the only six hundred dollar checks, they want more, and they’re still making these big statements to kind of show people that’s still their position but ultimately I don’t think they’re going to block anything today in the Senate.
Now before we get into stimulus checks and unemployment and all that let’s talk a little bit about this surprise medical billing provision that’s in this bill. But before we get into that, I want to show you this tweet from Jerry Seinfeld thanking Chuck Schumer for pushing for the Save Our Stages legislation, reportedly as we said last week, Schumer was pushing for seventeen billion in this thing for live venues, and it came out to fifteen billion, so that’s obviously a huge win for live venues, is that disproportionate though compared to the one fiftyish, maybe a little more, for stimulus checks?
Live venues specifically getting ten percent of what people are getting for stimulus checks, might be a bit unbalanced there. But let’s talk medical billing. Pelosi in her statement last night said, “The package includes bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will end surprise billing for emergency and scheduled care.” So what is this? Well, imagine this scenario. You have health insurance, you’re in an accident, you’re rushed to the hospital, an in-network hospital, one that accepts your health insurance, but you are seen by an emergency room physician who is not an employee of that hospital but of a physician staffing agency, and guess what, this doctor, though he or she is performing services at this hospital right now, he or she doesn’t take your insurance.
So what happens? Your insurance may have covered a lot of the bills from the hospital itself because they’re in network, but the E.R. doctor sends you a separate bill for his or her services for hundreds if not thousands of dollars and your insurance kicked in a hundred bucks.
So it’s sounding like it’s these kind of arrangements that are being targeted here, so report is that beginning in Twenty-Twenty-Two, instead of charging patients for services like, health providers like the E.R. doctor will have to work with insurers on a fair price rather than billing the patient directly. It’s said that this will apply to doctors like in the example I gave, hospitals, and air ambulances, but not ground ambulances, those ambulance companies must have some friends in high places pushing for them, right?
As discussed last night, there is a six hundred dollar stimulus check in this thing, six hundred for non-dependent adults and six hundred for children, I imagine the rules will be the same as the CARES Act, meaning dependent children under the age of seventeen are eligible for the six hundred, they’re saying same income limitations as under the CARES Act, mixed families included now, I’ve explained that many times here on the channel, not going to go into that again, unemployment three hundred dollars a week for eleven weeks, PUA and PEUC extended as well, eleven weeks from the end of December we’re estimating that’s until March Fourteenth, twenty-five billion for rental relief, so those are the major items that are in there for the people.
Steve Mnuchin was on CNBC this morning and said that he expects the first stimulus payments to go out before the end of the year, he said he expects we’ll get the money out by the beginning of next week. Why? Because now Treasury knows exactly where to send your money, there aren’t all these hiccups there before with Social Security and paper checks and all that nonsense, well, there still will be hiccups, don’t get me wrong, but not nearly as many as last time, which is why Mnuchin can speak so positively about this.
So I’ve seen questions in the comments, is SSI eligible for this, is SSDI, if you were eligible last time, you will be eligible this time, and they have the same banking information.
In terms of what to do if your banking information has changed, we will have to wait from more guidance from Treasury and the IRS on this, it’s possible they may set up another kind of portal for people to update their information, also possible that if your information has changed, the deposit will be rejected, and you’ll just receive a paper check, also possible that they’ll say, if your banking information has changed, you’re out of luck, just claim the credit on your tax return, we just don’t know at this point what their position will be for those whose banking information has changed since the first stimulus payment.
There is also the issue of the stimulus debit cards, remember Mnuchin was a big fan of these, for those who received stimulus debit cards, will these be reloaded with stimulus money for those individuals, we don’t know, there’s just a lot right now that Treasury and IRS haven’t disclosed, and maybe they haven’t even figured it out yet because this is all happening so fast. In terms of unemployment, that is obviously administered through the various states ,so your mileage may vary depending on the state you live in.
On the unemployment, a Senate aide said there is this side hustler’s provision in this thing, which is an additional weekly benefit of one hundred dollars a week in supercharged unemployment on top of the normal three hundred dollar weekly benefit amount, who’s this for, this is for someone who makes money from both a W-2 job and self-employment income, so they have a normal job but they also have a side hustle or a side gig or something, so let’s say this is you, and you have a W-2 job, but you were laid off, so you’re eligible for regular unemployment and the three hundred dollars a week but you’re not eligible for PUA because you’re already eligible for normal unemployment.
So what this is saying is that if that’s you, if that’s your scenario, and you earn at least five thousand dollars a year in self-employment income on top of your W-2, you can be eligible for this additional one hundred dollars a week on top of the three hundred dollars a week. We’re hearing that this benefit will only begin after your state agrees to it with the federal Department of Labor.
On housing, we are hearing that as expected, this new bill will extend the eviction moratorium on evictions through January Thirty-First, it is believed that this will simply be an extension of the CDC moratorium with the same eligibility requirements and income limitations. Rent relief, twenty-five billion, expected to be for both backrent and future rent, it seems that they simply took this from the bipartisan proposal’s arrangement that we went over previously here on the channel. This rent relief will be administered through the states, so again just like with unemployment, your mileage may vary on that.
Now let’s talk student loans, Department of Education has already previous to this new bill extended the payment pause on federal student loans to January Thirty-First. Will this new bill extend that further, we don’t know yet. For small business, three hundred and twenty five billion for small businesses, lion’s share is PPP, two hundred and eighty billion of that toward PPP.
And this morning Mnuchin said the threshold for the second round of PPP is twenty-five percent, so you need to show at least a twenty-five percent decline in revenue from last year, previously we thought it could be thirty percent, so it’s sounding like they’re making it easier for businesses to get a second round of PPP. And speaking of PPP, expenses paid for with PPP funds will be tax deductible, that’s contrary to what Treasury said earlier this year, but they are putting it in legislation.
One thing that Nancy Pelosi didn’t mention is that this bill will increase the meals and entertainment deduction, specifics of what that looks like exactly we’ll have to wait for the bill. And like I said yesterday, Pelosi and Schumer are really positioning themselves here as saying this bill that’s going to pass today it has a lot of gaps, it’s deficient. Biden himself said that this action in the lame duck session is just the beginning, our work is far from over.
We know Dems will push for big stimulus after the inauguration, maybe even before with the new Congress, will they be able to get it is a different story, even assuming they win both Georgia Senate runoffs here in a couple weeks, they will still need at least some Republican support to push something through the Senate apart from the very scary option of ending the filibuster.
Even with all fifty Senate votes from Democrats and Independents, they would still need at least ten Republican votes to get cloture on anything, will at least ten Republican senators be down for more stimulus a month or two from now, Josh Hawley I think yes, will others join him, I’m not sure.