These are the stimulus updates for today, Sunday June 28th.
American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act
First thing I want to talk about is Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s new bill. This bill is called the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act. I read the whole bill this morning, it’s not too long. Here’s the link to Marco Rubio’s new bill if you want to check it out.
Now, before I get into the details of this bill, I want to set some context. So we know that the stimulus checks, the first round of stimulus checks were instituted by the CARES Act, which was passed on March 27th.
You know that under the CARES Act, you are not eligible for stimulus payment, unless you have a valid social security number.
Even if you do have a valid social security number, but you are married to somebody who does not have a valid social security number, and you file your taxes jointly with that individual, then unless at least one of you as a member of the US Armed Forces, you are not eligible for a stimulus payment, no $1200 for you, no $1200 for your spouse, no $500 each for your kids.
This rule under the CARES Act has caused more than 1 million American citizens to be ineligible for stimulus payments, simply because they are married to somebody without a valid social security number.
Even though they themselves have a valid social media number, they’re married to somebody without one, and they filed their taxes jointly with them. That sucks, right? That really sucks.
And that is what Marco Rubio is seeking to remedy in this bill. What does this bill do?
This bill would give those “mixed” status families a $1,200 stimulus check, as well as make their children eligible for the $500 additional stimulus for dependent children under the age of 17.
This would be retroactive. So if this bill passes, it would be made the law just as though it were part of the original CARES Act. Okay. So I imagine the IRS would send some stimulus checks again, another round of stimulus checks to those individuals, these “mixed” status families.
If this passes, we know that Democrats want this as well, but this is interesting because it’s a Republican bill.
Now, one thing the media has not picked up on about this bill and I’ll tell you why they haven’t picked up on it in a second.
This bill would reduce the start of the income phase out from $150,000, which is typically the case for married filing jointly to $75,000.
What does this mean?
So under the CARES Act, if you’re married, filing jointly, both spouses have a social security number, qualify, then you can make up to $150,000 and your stimulus payment wouldn’t be reduced.
If you make above $150,000, your stimulus payment is gradually reduced until if you make too much money, then you don’t get any stimulus payment at all.
Under Marco Rubio’s bill for these mixed status families, that number is no longer $150,000, it’s $75,000.
So if a “mixed” status family starts making more than $75,000, their maximum stimulus payment would gradually be reduced until it could potentially phase out altogether at a certain income level.
The media isn’t picking up on that because when these journalists write about these articles, they’re typically just looking at the fact sheet, right?
Just a little summary, one page, two pages that comes out along with the bill. Unfortunately, oftentimes these fact sheets are woefully inadequate.
They leave out important information in the bill or worst case, sometimes are flat out wrong and don’t even reflect what’s actually in that bill.
We saw that earlier this year with the Automatic BOOST to Communities Act.
Local Stimulus Programs
Now let’s move on to local stimulus. Let’s go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Open Society Foundations has granted the city of Pittsburgh, $500,000 to be dispersed as a form of stimulus check to individuals, immigrant and refugee communities in Pittsburgh that did not receive a federal stimulus payment.
I imagine that would be because they did not have a valid social security number. Those looking to apply for this assistance could email the Welcoming Pittsburgh Initiative at [email protected] for more information.
The money will be distributed over the next several weeks on a first come first serve basis.
Now let’s fly on a plane over to Bloomington, Illinois. Speaking of planes, I told you earlier, American airlines, they’re going to be operating planes at full capacity this week, starting July 1st. Isn’t that crazy? I think that’s a little insane with everything that’s going on with the virus.
Anyway, Bloomington, Illinois announced that they are issuing $1,000 per month stimulus checks up to three months to households that have a documented crisis related to COVID-19 occurring on or after March 17, 2020.
You must be able to document your crisis and you’ll need to apply for these $1,000 stimulus checks. You can do that at cityblm.org where an application will be in place or in person at the arena in Bloomington, Illinois.
So if you live in Bloomington, Illinois, or if you know somebody in Bloomington, Illinois, be sure to check this out.
Now let’s hop on a plane to Idaho. So in Idaho they are instituting back to work bonuses. We know that Republicans love back to work bonuses.
We know that congressmen like Rob Portman, Kevin Brady, have their own ideas for back to work bonuses. We still haven’t seen a bill for those yet.
But basically the theory is, we don’t want people to keep being on unemployment. We don’t want to make more money on unemployment with it all working. So we’re going to incentive them to go back to work by providing them with a back to work bonus.
Haven’t seen a bill for that at the federal level, but it appears that Idaho is taking matters into its own hands. Idaho received a $1.25 billion assistance through the CARES Act and Governor Brad Little is going to allocate 100 million of that to fund these back to work bonuses.
Who is eligible for these back to work bonuses?
Well, you must make less than $75,000 a year and he must have returned to work from May 1st through July 1st.
How much are these back to work bonuses worth?
$1,200 if you return to work full time, $750 if you return to work part time.
How do you get these bonuses?
Well, your employer must apply on your behalf. Applications can be submitted starting July 13th. So please make sure your employer is aware of this program.
Who knows, maybe we’ll see something adopted like this on a federal level because it seems like many Republicans could get behind an idea like this.
That said, I want to talk about unemployment for a bit in light of these back-to-work bonuses. More than one in five workers are currently on unemployment benefits or waiting to get on unemployment benefits according to the Economic Policy Institute.
The theory from the many Republicans in Congress is that, when people are on unemployment, they’re lazy and they’re not looking for work. We don’t want to boost the unemployment benefits. We don’t want them to stay on unemployment.
And that makes sense, right? We want to get the economy revitalized safely.
Safely being the key word. The FPC expires at the end of next month and right now we’re still seeing some states that have record high coronavirus cases.
My home state of California last week, we had 7,000 new cases in one day. It’s a record high for the state. So I do hope they do something about those who want to get back to work, but they can’t because businesses are closed for safety reasons.
There’s new research from the Chicago Federal Reserve that found that those who exhaust their unemployment benefits are actually less likely to search for work than those still receiving them. That’s a bit counterintuitive to me.
Because it’s the folks whose unemployment benefits have run out, they lost that stream of income, they’re the ones who would be really gung ho about looking for work.
But the opposite seems to be the case, at least according to the Chicago Fed.
In fact, the researchers found once benefits run out, search efforts for a new job drop precipitously.
They found that those currently collecting benefits search more than twice as intensely for a job as those who have exhausted their benefits. Why?
Well Jason Faberman, a senior economist at the Chicago Fed says, “Well, it could be a skill gap. Those who end up finding a job while on unemployment benefits may be more highly skilled.”
So that could explain this or it could be just a loss of confidence, right? You’ve gone through your whole unemployment period looking for jobs, you haven’t found any.
Now you get the disappointment of not getting unemployment checks anymore.
Now you could be in a really dejected place at that point, right? So, this is interesting. It’s counterintuitive to me.
Nevertheless, I don’t think it will change the minds of many GOP congressmen and congresswomen with respect to beefing up federally funded, unemployment benefits anytime soon.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the virus. That COVID-19.
Again, I’m not an epidemiologist. I’m not a neurologist. I’m not a physician. This isn’t my field of expertise. So I’m not going to talk about this too much.
But according to the CDC, it’s younger coronavirus patients are becoming a widening percentage of total coronavirus hospitalizations. So at the week ending March 7th, those in the 18 – 49 age group accounted for about 27% of hospitalizations.
But for this past week, that age group accounted for 35% of hospitalizations.
Austin, Texas’ medical director, Mark S. Scott said, increasing numbers of young people are ending up in the ICU and on ventilators because so many are infected with the virus. He said that some young people will be forever changed by the virus, unable to return to a normal life or work.
Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, a Republican said nearly half of all coronavirus cases diagnosed after the state reopened in late April have been among people under the age of 35, 70% of cases since reopening have been diagnosed in people under 50.
Nevertheless, Governor Stitt said, the state will not order any businesses to close.
This is still a very scary thing. Especially you young people. Because it seems that maybe, according to this data, maybe it’s the young people who are becoming a little more lax when it comes to social distancing and mask wearing and things like that.
Please keep up those measures. It’s good for you.
Sure, statistically young folks out there, closer to my age, you’re not as likely to pass away from COVID-19 as someone in an older cohort. But it can still significantly affect your life.
Even if it doesn’t, even if you don’t even have COVID-19 symptoms, you can still contract it and spread it to others who are more vulnerable, like older people and those with a compromised immune system.
So let’s all be smart. Especially as we’re going into the summer months and we want to get out and we want to socialize.
Please be smart with things. Wear those masks, continue to practice social distancing, and please think about what’s best not only for you, but for others.