Will Second Stimulus Checks Be Tied to Unemployment? I Sure Hope Not

This is my stimulus update for Sunday July 12th.

Senator John Barrasso on the Next Round of Stimulus

So the latest in congressional rumblings regarding the next stimulus bill come from the mouth of Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming.

He’s a Republican Senator, he was on Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo this morning talking about stimulus.

There’s nothing too crazy about what he said. Just kind of confirms things that we’ve talked about here in the channel over the past couple of weeks, but I think it’s important to at least acknowledge what he said, tell you what he said because this group, GOP senators, are the ones that would be the biggest block, the biggest stick in the mud with respect to another round of stimulus checks.

So let’s talk about what Senator Barrasso said.

He said that the next relief bill needs to have three focuses. Those focuses are, it has to focus on getting people back to work and children back to school.

It has to focus on saving lives and to Senator Barrasso, who is a physician, he said that means more testing, better treatment and of course a vaccine.

Number three, he said we need to provide liability insurance for healthcare workers, for our mom and pop small business owners and for our schools, so they can all open in a ‘good way’.

With respect to the HEROES act, the Senator called the HEROES act, basically, “Nancy Pelosi living in handout heaven.” That’s a direct quote.

Saying that includes bailouts, the city and state pension plans. Republicans are not going to go for that.

They’re going to craft their own idea of what the next stimulus bill should be. The Senator did speak directly about another round of stimulus checks.

Senator John Barrasso: There’s an urgency to get this done. A lot of different things in the components of it. The question is, should it include additional relief checks for people who have still not been able to get back to work, certainly in hard hit industries, whether that’s a service industry, the hospitality industry. We did that once before, but that was people up to $95,000. We’re looking at a lower number there. Then the unemployment insurance, as you raised, these are enhanced benefits where they’ve been paying people $600 a week above their own state unemployment benefits.

Maria Bartiromo: Right, and some of them are making more to stay home rather than to go to work. Stay with us, Senator. I want to ask you about masks and whether it should be a policy in that next act as well.

Now, this statement is a little bit concerning to me. I mean, he’s obviously not laying out the whole Republican agenda here, but he does tie stimulus checks, an extra round of stimulus checks, at least in his mind, to people who haven’t been able to get back to work.

That’s a little concerning to me because does this mean that in the Senator’s mind, the requirement to get the next round of stimulus checks means that you had to be previously employed and now you’re unemployed and you can’t get back to work because you’re in a particularly hard hit industry, like service industry, hospitality, etc?

If that is the GOP Senate agenda right now, with respect to another round of stimulus checks, I certainly hope they rethink that position because there are people hurting right now, regardless of their employment status.

There are people employed right now who are hurting due to the pandemic. There are people who are unemployed obviously, who are hurting right now due to the pandemic.

There are people who are out of the workforce, retirees, people who are just not attached to the workforce for whatever reason who are hurting right now.

I think it would be an extremely unpopular move for Republicans to only issue another round of stimulus checks to those who are not able to find work right now.

I’m not saying this is a Republican agenda, but it’s just interesting to me that when the Senator has talked about another round stimulus checks, he said, “Additional relief checks for people who haven’t been able to get back to work,” and that he named certain industries.

He also named the income threshold. He said before, it was $95,000. I don’t know where he got that. The income thresholds before were $75,000 for single, $112,500 for head of household, $150,000 for married filing jointly.

That’s when the phase outs begin. If you make over those amounts, you would get a reduced stimulus check under the first round.

So I don’t know where he got that number. Maybe he just made a mistake.

Later, Maria asks him about the timing of all this. She points out that, well, you folks, you’re coming back to DC on July 20th and you go out for another recess on August 8th, are you going to do something in that timeframe? Here’s what the Senator said.

Maria Bartiromo: Real quick on the next CARES act. When you get back on the 20th, it doesn’t sound like you’re going to leave on August 8th without anything getting done. Should I assume we will have another stimulus package in that three week period?

Senator John Barrasso: There is general agreement we need to work to that end and we need to deal with the issues affecting our nation. There are still people who can’t go back to work through no fault of their own because of the disease, because of maybe medical conditions. We need to make sure that they are cared for, but we cannot continue to pay people more to sit at home than go to work. We have so many help wanted signs around Wyoming and the country, we need to do all weekend to get people back to work and help them earn that paycheck.

This seems to be what most people are saying right now.

Yes, we are going to get it done.

We think we should get it done in that three week period between July 20th, when everyone’s back in town, to August 8th, when the next Senate recess begins.

Some Erroneously Received Two Stimulus Checks

Shifting gears here just for a second to the first round of stimulus, approximately 46,768 US citizens received two first round stimulus checks by accident as of the end of May, according to the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration.

That is an error in excess of $69 million.

The IRS is asking people to return the payments and it’s unclear what happens if they are not returned.

Louisiana Front Line Workers Stimulus

Also in terms of local stimulus, this week, July 15th, this Wednesday, Louisiana residents deemed to be essential workers and who make under $50,000 a year, maybe eligible for a $250 stimulus check from the state of Louisiana.

You will have to apply through the Louisiana Department of Revenue website. I didn’t see an application on the website at this point.

It seems that Wednesday, July 15th is when the applications will be live.

But nevertheless, if you live in Louisiana and you are a frontline worker, and I’m sure they’ll give some more guidance on what exactly that means, check out the Louisiana Department of Revenue website.

But it doesn’t seem that an application will be live until Wednesday.

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