Second stimulus check IRS updates: news summary for 4 January
US news: stimulus checks, Trump-Biden - LIVE!
- Second round of stimulus check payments began in late December
- Survey reveals Americans are split on who to blame for the failure to pass the bill on $2k stimulus checks
- Trump pressures Sec of State for Georgia: "All I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes" (full story)
- Trump to sue over leaked call (full story)
- US covid-19 death toll surpasses 350,000
- Georgia Senator Perdue in isolation ahead of 5 January run-off
Reverse creditor bail-out
Student loans, medical debt, mortgage payments, rent, and municipal debt should all be reduced or eliminated outright, is the call from Astra Taylor.
The only sensible solution, she says, is a policy of generous cash payments coupled with wide-scale debt relief, pointing to research that shows people spent 30 percent of their 2020 stimulus checks to service debt.
FBI asked to investigate Trump
Reps. Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice have sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking him to open a criminal investigation into Trump's call to Brad Raffensperger.
Trump's EPA finalizes last minute limits on science used in rulemaking
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief said on Monday he has finalized a rule to limit what scientific research the agency can use to formulate regulations, in a concession to big business weeks before President Donald Trump leaves office.
Under the rule, the EPA will no longer be able to rely on scientific research that is underpinned by confidential medical and industry data. Opponents of the rule, including public health advocates and environmentalists, said it would harm human health protections by making it harder to craft air and water regulations.
For decades the EPA has relied on scientific research rooted in confidential medical and industry data as a basis for its air, water and chemicals rules. While the agency publishes large amounts of research and data, the confidential material has been held back. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that the agency had relied on 'secret science' and the 'Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science' rule would allow more public scrutiny of the science used in rulemaking.
'Our rule will prioritize transparency and increase opportunities for the public to access the 'dose-response' data that underlie significant regulations and influential scientific information,' Wheeler said in the piece.
He said dose-response data 'explain the relationship between the amount of a chemical or pollutant and its effect on human health and the environment.' The rule will likely be overturned by President-elect Joe Biden who takes office on 20 January and, like many Trump-era environmental rollbacks, could be challenged by environmentalists in the courts.
Biden's $2,000 guarantee
President-elect Joe Biden spoke ahead of the Georgia run-off elections and make it clear that two Democrat wins would bring a larger check to all needy Americans.
Money advisor Douglas Boneparth was surprised to see some younger views on what to do with the stimulus check when it arrives.
President Trump at a rally in Georgia Monday openly pressured his loyal No. 2 to help change the election outcome saying “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us.” The Vice President will preside on Wednesday when Congress meets to ratify the Electoral College results certifying Joe Biden’s victory. Trump thinks that Pence’s role in the certification will be like that of an arbiter who plays a role in the outcome whereas the Vice President’s role will be mainly ceremonial. However all eyes will be on Pence to see if he tries to humor his boss with some theatrics as around a dozen Senators have said they will object to the Electoral College results.
Business leaders tell Congress to certify the election results
More than 170 prominent business leaderssigned a letter to Congress to urge the lawmakers to certify the Electoral College results that declared Joe Biden the President-elect. At least 140 House Republicans and a dozen Senate Republicans are preparing to vote against Biden's victory during the vote scheduled for Wednesday.
New House rules
The House of Representatives voted 217-206 along party-lines to adopt a new set of rules for the 117th Congress. The new rules include a provision to allow members to vote remotely during the pandemic. Also bills cannot be amended at the 11th hour on the floor, but any changes will be sent back to committee to give members time to review the changes. Among some of the other new rules, whistleblowers will be given stronger protections and tighter rules on lawmakers spreading misinformation.
Confusion with acronyms
The IRS has started distributing the second round of stimulus checks, or Economic Impact Payments although there is no similarity with the EIP card.
Trump rewards another ally
Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee was awarded the Medal of Freedom at a ceremony closed to the public. The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor was given to Nunes for his help in defending the President during Trump’s impeachment. In his position Representative Nunes worked to undermine the Justice Department's Russia investigation in cooperation with the President. According to CNN, Trump is planning to give the Medal of Freedom to another ally during his impeachment Representative Jim Jordan.
A majority of Americans support $2000 stimulus checks
Across the political spectrum there is wide support for further $2000 direct stimulus payments for every American for the duration of the pandemic according to polling by Data for Progress. Another study released by Data for Progress over the weekend shows that Americans blame the Republican leaders for failure to pass the measure.
New York, Florida tell hospitals to speed covid-19 vaccinations or lose supply
The governors of New York and Florida sought to accelerate the slower-than-expected rollout of coronavirus vaccines by warning hospitals on Monday that they would reduce future allocations to those that fail to dispense shots quickly enough.
In New York, hospitals must administer vaccines within a week of receiving them or face a fine and loss of future supplies, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
"I don't want the vaccine in a fridge or a freezer, I want it in somebody's arm," the governor said. "If you're not performing this function, it does raise questions about the operating efficiency of the hospital."
The US federal government has distributed more than 15 million vaccine doses to states and territories around the country, but only around 4.5 million have been administered so far, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Monday.
In Florida, where officials have put senior citizens ahead of many essential workers for getting the vaccine, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a policy under which the state would allocate doses to hospitals that dispense them most quickly.
"Hospitals that do not do a good job of getting the vaccine out will have their allocations transferred to hospitals that are doing a good job at getting the vaccine out," DeSantis said at a briefing.
"We do not want vaccine to just be idle at some hospital system," he added, though he did not say they would face fines.
Florida will also deploy an additional 1,000 nurses to administer vaccines and will keep state-run vaccination sites open seven days a week, he said.
(Reuters; photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo)
Trump claims "easily, provably false" - Georgia election official
Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling has told a news conference that Donald Trump’s claims he won the presidential election in the state in November and was denied victory by widespread voter fraud are "easily, provably false".
"Yet the president persists," Sterling continued, "and by doing so undermines Georgians’ faith in the electoral system - especially Republican Georgians’ in this case, which is important because we have a big election coming up tomorrow and everybody deserves to have their vote counted if they want it to be, Republican and Democrat alike.”
Paper check recipients can cash payment using Venmo
People who receive their second stimulus check in paper form can send their payment to their bank accounts for free using the Venmo app. The mobile payment service says it is waiving the fees usually charged as part of its 'Cash a Check' feature "for a limited time".
Senate run-off elections in Georgia: live updates
We've now launched a live news feed dedicated to the crucial Senate run-off elections in Georgia tomorrow, which you can follow here:
15.4m vaccine doses distributed, 4.5m administered - CDC
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had administered 4,563,260 first doses of covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Monday morning and distributed 15,418,500 doses.
The tally of vaccine doses distributed and the number of people who received the first dose are for both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines as of 9:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, the agency said.
According to the tally posted on 2 January, the agency had administered 4,225,756 first doses of the vaccines and distributed 13,071,925 doses.
A total of 2,533,925 vaccine doses were distributed for use in long-term care facilities and 365,294 people in the facilities got their first dose, the agency said.
The agency also reported 20,558,489 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 212,117 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,418 to 350,664.
The CDC reported its tally of cases as of 4 p.m. ET on 3 January versus its previous report a day earlier.
The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.
Democratic House members call on FBI to investigate Trump
Two Democratic members of the House of Representatives, Ted Lieu (CA) and Kathleen Rice (NY), have urged the FBI to open an investigation into President Donald Trump over his phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger:
Lining up for the vaccine
Seniors aged 65 and over wait in line at the Department of Health Sarasota's COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic in Sarasota, Florida, on Monday.
Do I have to pay tax on my second stimulus check?
Early last week, the IRS began sending out the second round of coronavirus Economic Impact Payments to qualifying Americans.
But is this money taxable?
Stimulus check payments begin: make sure your IRS details are correct
The IRS has confirmed that the $600 stimulus checks are already being made but some are yet to receive the first round of payments. Make sure you don't miss out on the cash.
Criminal immunity running out
“He’s obsessed with the fact that he loses his immunity on January 20th...”
- George Conway on that Georgia call and the claims in general.
Worse than Watergate
Carl Bernstein, the man who helped uncover the Watergate scandal under Nixon, has sait that the latest Trump tapes are ‘far worse’ than Watergate.
White House pressed Raffensperger to take Trump call
Georgia's Republican top election official has said that the White House had pushed him against his better judgment to take a call from President Donald Trump in which he pressured the state to overturn his November presidential election defeat there.
'I never believed it was appropriate to speak to the president but he pushed out, I guess he had his staff push us. They wanted a call,' Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told ABC's 'Good Morning America.'
A state Democrat has called for a probe into whether Trump had violated Georgia election law on the call. Raffensperger and his office's general counsel rejected Trump's assertions of electoral fraud in the hour-long conversation.
'We took the call, and we had a conversation. He did most of the talking, we did most of the listening,' Raffensperger said.
'But I do want to make my points that the data that he has is just plain wrong. He had hundreds and hundreds of people he said that were dead that voted. We found two. That's an example of just his bad data.'
Prelude to a Trump speech
As we are now getting very used to, ahead of a rally involving President Donald Trump, we tend to get a flavour of what he'll be pushing via his Twitter account. And his latest collection of words are pretty much in line with expectations:
'How can you certify an election when the numbers being certified are verifiably WRONG. You will see the real numbers tonight during my speech, but especially on JANUARY 6th.'
Once again - as per last night's embarrassment of a call and most statements since his election defeat - it's always 'just you wait and see' rather than 'look, we've already demonstrated our stance with evidence.'
Georgia: the centre of US politics
With so much at stake for the future of Americans in tomorrow's runoff elections, the southeastern state is taking almost all the attention right now.
If you missed it, here is VP-elect Kamala Harris making her case to voters.
Stimulus check move questioned
Back to stimulus check news, and despite enjoying widespread public support and being included in the recent economic relief package signed into law by President Donald Trump, not everyone is convinced.
A former top Obama administration economist believes that they are not the best use of taxpayer dollars.
The first round of stimulus checks sent last year “didn’t do all that much,” were not necessarily fair and didn’t help the sectors that were hurting the most, said Christina Romer, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. She served as chair of then-President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and helped design the government’s response to the 2008 financial crisis.
Assange move blocked
A side note that there has been some other rather significant news related to the United States today, as a British judge ruled that WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face charges.
US prosecutors have indicated they will appeal against the ruling.
With much of the focus on the $600 stimulus checks turning up in accounts or in the mailbox, there are still some people just receiving their larger check from the CARES Act signed off back in March.
What out for the scammers and fraudsters
Some typical scams that have emerged taking advantage of the new stimulus checks finally being rolled out and top tips on how you can avoid them.
Emily France runs down the main tactics used:
Stimulus investment options
With millions of Americans unable to work due to the pandemic, and people coping with sickness and more, times remain difficult. So if you're struggling financially, that hardship is understandable. And your survival is most important.
If you currently have debt for major expenses like rent, your mortgage, or medical bills, you can put any extra funds toward these bills. And contact your landlord, lender, or other creditors to negotiate payment terms and next steps if you can't pay the balance in full. If you're struggling to pay basic expenses, consider contacting a charitable or government program for help.
That said, if your immediate debt is taken care of, the PFI looks at another option for when you receive stimulus support.
A message from the IRS
In the last hour the Inland Revenue Service has provided a reminder that they are trying to resolve any issues with payments not getting to Americans as fast as they should.
Trump not helping
Speaking on CNN, Georgia Lt Gov Geoff Duncan, is not pleased with Trump's latest actions, and calls upon the spirit of Ronald Reagan.
"I can't think of a scenario where it helps," the Republican says.
Tapes from Hollywood to Georgia
Like the little boy haunted by ghosts in the horror movie “The Sixth Sense,” President Donald Trump sees dead people everywhere. He thinks at least 5,000 of them voted in Georgia during the presidential election and were part of a broader conspiracy that deprived him of a victory in the state.
In that unhinged, extraordinary phone call Saturday with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Timothy L. O'Brien argues Trump is 'willing to torch democracy to save himself.'
Socialiam for the rich
Senator Bernie Sanders makes the case that maybe Mitch McConnell's idea about socialism for the rich could be a little misguided.
With the visual aid of oversized checks, the veteren politician points to hundreds of millions of dollars given to huge corporations in tax rebates, rather than the desired $2,000 to needy American families.
Where's my stimulus check?
With the $600 stimulus checks issued at the end of 2020, and a new Congress being sworn in on Sunday, Americans want to know how to track their payments with the IRS.
Trump and Biden head to Georgia
President Donald Trump travels to Georgia on Monday in a bid to keep the US Senate in the hands of his Republican Party, after his efforts to overturn his own defeat in the state have injected new uncertainty into a pair of races that are seen as too close to call.
President-elect Joe Biden also will travel to Georgia for a last-minute rally ahead of the Tuesday runoff elections, which pit a pair of incumbent Republican senators against two Democratic challengers. If Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue successfully defend their seats, their party would maintain a 52-seat majority in the 100-seat Senate, giving them the power to block much of Biden's agenda when he takes office on 20 January.
A sweep by Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff would hand control to Biden's party, as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would hold the tiebreaking vote in the 50-50 chamber. That would make it easier for Biden to enact further coronavirus relief and tackle climate change, as Democrats also control the House of Representatives.
None of the candidates won a majority in their November races, which spurred the runoff elections. Biden narrowly won Georgia in November, breaking years of Republican dominance in the state.
Want to know more about the Georgia runoff? Emily France digs into it here.
The Devil went down to Georgia
Following the publication of the leaked call by The Washigton Post, in which Trump pressed Georgia's SoS Brad Raffensperger to 'find votes', more action is said to be coming.
Republican Party chair David Shafer took to Twitter to announce that Trump had “filed two lawsuits - federal and state" against Raffensperger.
Georgia on the mind
Brian Tyler Cohen has posted the following video by ReallyAmerican.com with voices from the state putting over the importance of the vote, and 'standing up for Georgia'.
Moved or changed bank? Expect delay on your stimulus check
The IRS have already started to send out the first tranches of the $600 stimulus checks, but you can expect a delay on yours if you have changed bank or moved since the first round of $1,200 payments were sent out last year, according to CNBC...
ABC7 News anchor Lindsey Mastis will be interviewing a tax law expert about the stimulus bill -- including stimulus checks and unemployment benefits. And she is offering twitter users the chance to suggest questions for the discussion...
Economist Stephen Moore uncertain on need for "massive stimulus bill"
Economist and Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore has stated that he’s unsure if the US needs a “massive stimulus bill” to boost economic growth in 2021.
"I’m not so sure we need this massive stimulus bill. We just need to get the vaccine out there,” Moore said during an interview on WABC 770 AM (via The Hill). “And we need to get the businesses open in New York City and Los Angeles and Chicago and San Francisco.”
Moore also expressed his concerns about possible increases in taxes and regulation under the incoming administration led by Joe Biden.
“I’m worried about Biden wanting to raise taxes, raise regulations, climate change legislation,” Moore said. “They could do a lot of damage to the economy as we start to recover.”
Survey on who is to blame for failure to pass the $2k stimulus checks
Americans are split about who is to blame for the failure to pass the $2,000 stimulus-checks initiative known as the CASH Act, a new poll has revealed.
Just over 47 percent of more than 1,000 people surveyed laid blame on the “Republicans in Congress and Senator Mitch McConnell” while 32 percent said the “Democrats in Congress and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi” were behind the failure.
Interestingly, 15 percent of those polled said the blame fell on Donald Trump, despite the president being a strong supporter of increasing the stimulus paychecks from $600 to $2,000.
Georgia senate run-off: Ossof accuses Perdue of opposing first stimulus check
Democratic candidate in the Georgia Senate run-off, Jon Ossof, has accused his Republican opponent, David Perdue, of "[profiting] off COVID" while he "opposed $1200 stimulus checks for his own constituents." The two candidates are tight in the polls ahead of Tuesday's vote, though Perdue maintains a small lead.
Trump full phone call to Georgia Sec. of State
Below is the full audio recording of the phonecall between President Donald Trump and the Secetary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, in which the president asked the Georgia leader to "find" more than 11,000 votes in an effort to overturn the state's election result in favor of Joe Biden...
Democrat Hank Johnson indicates plan to censure Donald Trump in Congress
Following revelations of potential criminal activity in the #TrumpTapes, where the president pressures top Georgia election official and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to tamper with the vote numbers, Johnson has come out with a plan to formally censure Trump on Monday.
Trump Tapes scandal: comments from Democrats
So far, president-elect Joe Biden is yet to publicly comment on the leaked phone call recording, but his second-in-command Kamala Harris has, and other top Democrats.
Hello and welcome...
Hello and welcome as we begin our live blog on Monday morning, 4 January. We'll be bringing you all the latest news and reaction on the new stimulus package, the bill to increase stimulus checks to $2,000, as well as the major political news coming out of Washington D.C.