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One of the biggest arguments against the proposed total $2,000 stimulus payments is that they aren’t concentrated enough – some argue that money should be focused more on those who need it most, including the unemployed.
In a speech Thursday night detailing his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, the president-elect said sending the payments to all eligible Americans, even those that are still employed, is important in boosting a U.S. economy that’s been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Even for those who have kept their jobs, these checks are really important,” Biden said.
For American workers making $40,000 a year with less than $400 in savings, the total of $2,000 will go a long way in easing the pain of the pandemic, he said.
Biden’s plan would add to the payments from latest Covid relief bill, which included direct checks of $600 for eligible adults and $600 per dependent, meaning a family of four could receive $2,400.
Individuals who earned less than $75,000 and those married filing jointly who earned less than $150,000 in 2019 are eligible for the full amount. Those who made more qualify for reduced checks, which phase out completely for individuals that earned $87,000 and couples that made $174,000 in 2019.
A boost to the economy
That’s because there are many workers who haven’t lost their jobs but have lost hours, had their wages cut or have had to step back from work to take care of their families, according to Biden.
This group likely represents millions of workers who won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits, including the expanded weekly amount of coronavirus relief, said Elizabeth Pancotti, a policy advisor at Employ America, a left-leaning advocacy group.
“There are millions of families out there facing economic hardship regardless of their specific access to unemployment insurance,” Pancotti said. “As a result, we should make sure that their households are stabilized.”
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In addition, even those who have kept jobs may be seeing higher costs due to the pandemic in food and essential items as well as additional costs of personal protective equipment for themselves and their families.
“Those aren’t incidental costs for folks working 30-hour a week jobs at $7.25 an hour putting food on the table for their kids,” Pancotti said.
Even sending stimulus checks to those who have kept their jobs and have not been hit hard by the pandemic could help to support the economy going forward, as consumer spending makes up roughly 70% of U.S. gross domestic product.
“When you talk about saving the economy and stabilizing the economy, increasing or stabilizing spending is the most direct way to do that,” said Pancotti, adding that to save businesses such as restaurants and jobs for workers, consumers need to be able to spend at them.
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