This week, President-elect Biden unveiled his economic stimulus package in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He's calling it the American Rescue Plan and says it will help "rescue the American economy and start beating the virus." Along with increasing funding for vaccination distribution, schools reopening, small businesses and state and local governments, the American Rescue Plan also helps put, and keep, money in the pockets of millions of Americans.
One of the most popular ways the package does this is with another stimulus check. This third check will be for $1,400, so with the $600 second stimulus check that went out a few weeks ago, eligible recipients will be receiving $2,000 in total. The same goes for their dependents, but unlike the previous packages, Biden's removes the age limit of 16 years old from the definition of a dependent so older kids, the elderly and others would qualify for the payment.
The checks aren't the only financial aid provided by the plan though. Unemployment benefits, which were recently cut when a bonus payment dropped from $600 a week to $300 a week, will increase to $400 a week and get distributed through at least September instead of March when they were set to expire. Unemployment benefits for those who have exhausted theirs will also be extended and anyone who is self-employed will qualify for aid as well. The plan also increased federal minimum wage to $15 an hour - more than twice the current rate of $7.25 an hour.
In addition, parents will get more help. The proposal expands the childcare tax credit for a year and increases those benefits so that, depending on their income, a person with children under 13 could qualify for a credit for child-care expenses up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two, a significant increase over the current credits. Meanwhile, the tax credit for kids will go up too, from $2,000 per child 16 and younger to $3,000 for kids 17 and younger, and $3,600 for a child under the age of 6. For parents of older children, the plan gives $35 billion to public institutions of higher learning to provide an additional $1,700 in financial aid to millions of college students.
The package also expands other tax benefits and increases more tax credits to help all kinds of Americans, single or married, with or without kids. Included in the tax changes are an increase to the premium tax credit that helps some lower-income people pay for their health insurance. Additionally there are benefits for essential workers, extensions to paid family and sick leave, an extension on eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, $25 billion in rental assistance, $5 billion in aid for renters struggling to afford home energy and water bills, and more.
As for when it will all happen, Biden stated, "There is no time to wait. We have to act and act now." However, the bill will have to pass through the House of Representatives and the Senate before he can sign it, and while Democrats are now in control of both chambers, there are many members of the party that might take issue with items in the proposal. Some feel that the third stimulus check should be for a full $2,000, not $1,400, and might fight to see that happen, while others might want to restrict the number of people who receive the stimulus check to drop the $1.9 billion price tag on the proposal. If they move quickly and come to a fast agreement on the terms, you could see the benefits as early as next month.
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