Third stimulus check news summary: 26 March 2021
Stimulus check live updates
- Analysts predict US economy will grow between 6.5% and 7% after 2021 stimulus bill
- Treasury Secretary Yellen predicts return to full employment in US in 2022
- US weekly jobless claims fall below forecasts
- IRS has issued nearly 130 million stimulus checks to date, with 160 million households in the US set to receive $1,400 per person payment (who qualifies?)
- Inspector General issues fresh warning over stimulus check scams via phone and email
- IRS chief warns that child tax credit payments could be delayed (full details)
- SSA provides information to IRS to unlock 30 million stimulus checks for social security claimants (what happened?)
- US president unveils new $3 trillion employment package (full story)
- You can track your stimulus check using the IRS Get My Payment Tool
- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 30.08 million/546,822 (live updates from Johns Hopkins University)
US travel industry urges introduction of vaccine passports
The global travel industry has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic and airlines have suffered huge losses due to the almost total shutdown of traffic over the course of the past year. Many have reported staggering losses while there are question marks over the long-term viability of some carriers as the world adjusts to a new normal where air travel has again become the preserve of the few rather than the masses.
China is trialing a vaccine passport system for domestic travel in a bid to give the industry a shot in the arm and US Airlines and other travel and labor organizations have urged the Biden administration to push through a similar system to rescue the domestic travel industry.
Vice President Kamala Harris visits with students in a pre-school classroom at West Haven Child Development Center in West Haven, Connecticut.
Harris was in New Haven as part of a presidential tour to promote the Biden administration's recently passed $1.9 billion federal stimulus package.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
Cold weather depresses US consumer spending
US consumer spending fell by the most in 10 months in February as a cold snap gripped many parts of the country and the boost from a second round of stimulus checks to middle- and lower-income households faded, though the decline is likely temporary.
Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, dropped 1.0% last month after rebounding 3.4% in January, the Commerce Department said on Friday. That was the largest drop since April 2020, when the economy was reeling from the shutdown of nonessential businesses like restaurants to slow the spread of COVID-19 infections.
Personal income tumbled 7.1% after surging 10.1% in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending would decrease 0.7% in February and income would decline 7.3%.
Unseasonably harsh weather in the second half of February, including severe winter storms in Texas and other parts of the densely populated South region, depressed homebuilding, production at factories, orders and shipments of manufactured goods last month.
But activity is expected to rebound in March amid warmer weather, the White House's $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package and increased vaccinations against the coronavirus.
The massive relief package approved this month is sending additional $1,400 checks to qualified households and extending the government safety net for the unemployed through Sept. 6.
The government reported on Thursday that first-time applications for unemployed benefits dropped to a one-year low last week.
How will the new Child Tax Credit affect childhood poverty?
The White House has billed the expanded Child Tax Credit programme as a generational legislative achievement that will transform the lives of millions of American children who are currently living in poverty.
President Biden has said that his stimulus bill could halve childhood poverty in the US, and the monthly payments to parents and guardians will play a big part in that. But despite this optimism there are concerns that the IRS will struggle to implement the new system for months, with the original rollout date of 1 July now looking increasingly unlikely.
Spending falls as Americans wait for stimulus checks
Aside from offering direct support to those in need, the $1,400 Economic Impact Payments are designed to provide a federally funded cash injection to boost the struggling American economy. Evidence shows that they have been effective in this regard, but this can lead to fluctuations in consumer spending.
The January stimulus checks sparked a notable rise in spending, but levels fell again in February as Americans waited for the new direct payments to land in their accounts. The Department of Commerce reported that consumer spending fell by more than was expected but the new stimulus checks should help spark a renaissance in the coming weeks.
US President Joe Biden stated this week that the economic outlook is brightening thanks to the recent passage of his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, and a majority of economists now expect growth this year to exceed six percent.
"Since we passed the American Rescue Plan, we're starting to see new signs of hope in our economy," Biden said during his first press conference since taking office in January.
Given the success of the huge stimulus bill and the positive public opinion it has garnered, some have speculated that Biden will now wish to pursue a more ambitious agenda. This could see another round of stimulus checks in the offing in future, but Senate rules mean that Americans may have to wait a few months before it can be passed.
Senators urge Child Tax Credit extension
In a letter sent to President Biden on Friday, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and others called for the new Child Tax Credit expansion to be made permanent in any future recovery or stimulus legislation to be signed.
“No recovery will be complete unless our tax code provides a sustained pathway to economic prosperity for working adults and families,” the senators wrote in the letter. “Your forthcoming Recovery Plan is the opportunity we have to make the expansions of these credits permanent.”
Pennsylvania couple donate their stimulus checks
An estimated 160 million Americans will be receiving stimulus check payments at the moment, providing up to $1,400 of no-strings-attached federal support. But two Pennsylvania residents, Larry Passmore and Maureen O'Ryan, chose to donate all of their entitlement to local charities.
"Our feeling was that this money should really go to help address the crying needs that are exacerbated by the pandemic," said Larry Passmore.
"There are a lot of people who need it, and obviously, if you need it, you absolutely should be keeping it. But if you don't, I think it is an idea that perhaps could spread," said Maureen O'Ryan.
Their stimulus check donations went to organisations that address homelessness and food needs in their local community, providing extra assistance at a time when millions are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table.
VP Harris praises Child Tax Credit on national tour
President Biden is back in Washington but VP Kamala Harris is continuing to travel the country to extoll the virtues of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The new legislation completely overhauls the programme, offering monthly direct payments worth up to $300 per child to eligible families.
Harris also spoke to former President Bill Clinton in a one-on-one virtual conversation at the Clinton Global Initiative University, saying the new Child Tax Credit “is not only about this moment but the intergenerational impact of that approach. It’s very exciting in terms of, I think, also the duty that society should have and that government should have to the least of these, and in particular, our children and our children who are living in poverty,”
All Social Security recipients should be eligible to receive the third stimulus check that was included in the American Rescue Plan, but administrative issues have seen their payments delayed for weeks.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) had reportedly failed to provide the relevant claimants’ information needed for the IRS to process the payments, leaving an estimated 30 million Americans without the direct payments.
The SSA have now confirmed that they have provided the relevant information, but it may take some time for the payments to get out to those in need.
When will the delayed SS stimulus checks be sent out?
After pressure from Democrats in Congress the Social Security Administration has confirmed that they have forwarded the relevant information to the IRS so that a huge batch of around 30 million outstanding stimulus check payments can be distributed.
Nearly 130 million stimulus payments have already been made but Americans who also received some form of Social Security support were missed out due to an administrative error.
Child Tax Credits will help halve childhood poverty
Congresswoman Johana Hayes has outlined the benefits of the expanded Child Tax Credit programme, which Biden hopes will play a major role in the effort to address the growing number of families struggling to put food on the table.
The $300 monthly payments will be of great help for millions, but the current legislation only sees the provision last for 12 months. Today a group of over 40 Dem senators sent a letter to the White House, calling for the Child Tax Credit expansion to be made permanent in the next stimulus bill.
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Andrew Saul giving him 24 hours to send the files to free up a huge group of outstanding stimulus check payments.
The SSA sent the Internal Revenue Service missing payment files that have been delaying stimulus checks for 30 million Americans on Thursday. It will now be up to the IRS to send out the $1,400 payments per Social Security recipient and their dependents. But who are actually included in this huge stimulus check group?
Stimulus checks prompt retail recovery
The two stimulus checks distributed in 2021 appear to have had the desired effect on the American economy with consumer spending rises shortly in the immediate aftermath. The $600 direct payments sent out at the start of the year were responsible for an increase in year-on-year spending, while the ongoing $1,400 stimulus check distribution seems likely to have a similar effect.
Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh, said of the recent trends: “In February, households were waiting for the bigger stimulus check coming in March and there will be a surge in consumer spending, particularly on services."
Dems call for extended Child Tax Credit
The overaul of the Child Tax Credit programme represents one of President Biden's clearest commitments to tackling childhood poverty, but many within his Party want him to go further. The current expansion only lasts for 12 months but a letter from Democratic Senators calls for it to be made permanent.
The letter reads: "We should not allow this momentum to fade. As such, any further recovery plans you propose should include some very specific programs made permanent."
Cannabis companies expect stimulus check boost
Like with almost all public-facing retailers, the legal cannabis industry is believed to be expecting a bumper few weeks as Americans receive the long-awaited $1,400 stimulus checks. Many states have now legalised marijuana and with other entertainment options limited by covid-19 restrictions, the green dollar could be on the up.
Just yesterday the state of New York made a significant move towards legalising marijuana with a new "Cannabis Law", which will provide a proportion of the tax revenue raised from cannabis salesto invest in marginalised communities.
Lack of stimulus in February caused spending to collapse
Harsh winter weather and a temporary pause in government stimulus payments in February was blamed on the biggest decline in US consumer spending in 10 months. However, spending is expected to bounce back in coming months with $1,400 stimulus checks starting to land in American bank accounts. As economists forecast, consumer spending sank 1% last month marking the biggest drop since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic last year.
The cost of cashing a stimulus check
An estimated 350,000 New York city households don’t have bank accounts, making paper checks an added expense. In New York state, check cashing businesses can charge up to almost 2.3%. Experts say that’s a real burden on low-income people, those least likely to have a bank account, or what’s known as the “unbanked.”
More and more Americans have some form of bank account, but there is still over 5 percent of the nation without one in 2019 according to the FDIC. The Brookings Institution estimates 3 million paper checks from the first stimulus last year went through check cashers who charged a total of 66 million dollars in fees.
Read the full story at the Gothamist
Can you get both the Golden State Stimulus and a $1,400 stimulus check?
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a stimulus package in February that will provide millions of Californians with a Golden State Stimulus payment of up to $600, and for some $1,200. Then in March, Democrats in Washington passed President Joe Biden’s covid-19 relief plan, including $1,400 stimulus checks for approximately 85 percent of Americans. If Californians meet the eligibility requirements, they could expect to receive much needed economic relief from both payments.
Stimulus bill will help feed Americans
In an effort to address the growing food insecurity problem, the American Rescue Act passed this month includes $12 billion in key investments to food assistance programs, as well as $1,400 checks, and an extension of unemployment benefits.
The Covid relief package also includes a temporary 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for low-income families. Close to 22.5 million U.S. adults, or 10.5% of the population, reported there was sometimes or often not enough for them to eat in the last seven days, according to the most recent Census Household Pulse data from 17 February to 1 March.
Will Democrats find bipartisan support for infrastructure bill?
President Joe Biden is preparing to send a new spending bill to Congress to rebuild America. This bill could be upwards of $3 trillion to invest in the nation's infrastructure, education, work force development and fighting climate change. The proposed tax increases on corporations and the rich have already drawn criticism from Republicans.
However there may be some room for agreement on issues. Senator Shelley Capito, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, mentioned working on electric vehicle charging stations as an area Republicans can support. Read the rest of her interview with The Hill.
Justice Department prosecuting stimulus scammers
Big government programs are ripe fruit for scam artists and the covid-19 relief programs are no different. One favorite target for scammers have been federal unemployment benefits to aid the millions of Americans laid off due to the pandemic. Another has been the Paycheck Protection Program where companies would get interest-free loans to keep their employees on payroll and a stay afloat.
The Justice Department is coming for those who stole valuable aid from those who needed it. Federal investigators have identified more than half a billion dollars in fraud and charged 474 people so far.
The differences between an EIP card and a stimulus check
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Treasury began sending out 37 million stimulus payments to Americans this week, payments totaling almost $83 billion. Of those, 15 million were issued as paper checks and approximately 5 million were pre-paid EIP debit cards – both payment methods will be mailed out by post to addresses on file at the IRS. This third round of Economic Impact Payments is part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on 11 March 2021.
If you haven't received your payment yet you can go to the IRS Get My Payment portal. The online tool will tell you when and how you can expect your payment. So what should you look for if you are told your stimulus payment is coming in the mail.
Read to find out what the $1,400 paper checks and EIP cards look like.
Fourth stimulus checks are a possibility in 2021
The IRS are still working on distributing the $1,400 direct payments, but reports suggest that Biden may push for even more expansive support in future.
On Wednesday the White House confirmed that the Biden administration had hit the President’s target of sending out 100 million stimulus checks within the first ten days of distribution.
An estimated 160 million Americans are expected to receive direct payments worth up to $1,400 each, but many in Congress still believe that the support offered is insufficient considering the damage that the pandemic has done to the economy.
Read to find out what is Congress planning to do?
What’s delaying third stimulus payments?
The IRS began sending out $1,400 stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans last week but some are seeing only half of what they expected to receive.
President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that this week over 100 million stimulus payments will have been made. The second batch of $1,400 payments hit bank accounts 24 March, with the remaining payments sent out as a physical check or debit card.
In the first wave of payments however, some were surprised to see that they didn’t receive the full amount that they were expecting to receive. Even though the IRS told them that they were sent the full amount, what appeared in their bank account came up short.
Why are the payments being delayed? Read to find out.
Should $1,400 stimulus checks have been more targeted?
As Democrats pushed to pass the American Rescue Plan, to get more moderates onboard the payments were phased out much faster. For an individual making $80,000 or more and for married couple earning $160,000 and up saw nothing. However, there were calls for even tighter limits, did too much money get spent on those who don’t need it? Not so fast says Kyle Pomerleau, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Veterans to get debt relief from the VA
In an announcement from the Veterans Affairs, the department said:
“VA is extending debt relief for Veterans through September 30, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. VA will suspend collection of all Veteran benefit overpayments incurred between 6 April, 2020, and 30 September, 2021. No adverse actions or collection attempts will occur during this suspension period.”
“Additionally, all copayments for medical care and pharmacy services incurred from 6 April, 2020, and 30 September, 2021, will be cancelled, along with any fees or interest. Any payments for this time period will be refunded.”
Biden administration gearing up to push new infrastructure plan
The Biden administration is preparing to recommend up to $3 trillion in new spending, as part of a long-term economic recovery plan. The plan is expected to include a large investment in the nation's infrastructure, education, work force training and fighting climate change.
Although the administration and Democratic leaders say they'd prefer the infrastructure push to be bipartisan, they may have to use reconciliation again to pass the legislation when formed. Part of the GOP resistance centers around the spending being financed in part through tax increases on corporations and the rich.
SSA says agency couldn’t send stimulus payment information sooner
As the IRS touted its rapid distribution of $1,400 stimulus checks, a group of 30 million were left wondering where their payment was. Recipients of Social Security and other federal benefits saw their friends and neighbors getting their stimulus checks but not them. The House Ways and Means committee heard their complaints and demanded answers from the IRS and the Social Security Administration, the tax agency hadn’t received payment information requested from the SSA.
The SSA turned over the files necessary to make the payments for Social Security and other federal benefits recipients Thursday after receiving a stern letter from the committee demanding action. In the letter though, the SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul said that the agency’s hands were tied "The Social Security Act does not allow the agency to use our administrative appropriation to conduct work on any non-mission provision or program," Saul said.
However, there are still questions why the agency was able to move with speed to get the information needed to the IRS for the previous two rounds of stimulus checks. In the second round of payments Recipients of Social Security and other federal benefits saw payments within days of the checks being approved.
Dollar buoyant as economic outlook brightens
The dollar held near its highest since November against most major currencies on Friday, buoyed by hopes over improving US economic data and the availability of coronavirus vaccines, while the euro recovered from heavy losses a day before.
Against a basket of six major currencies, the dollar stood at 92.793, not far off a four-month high hit a day earlier and on course for a weekly gain of 0.9%.
In further signs of strength, the dollar rose to 109.44 against the Japanese yen, its highest since June.
Against the Swiss franc, it rose to its highest since July, holding onto a 0.5% gain from the previous session.
US jobless claims fell to a one-year low last week and President Joe Biden said he will double his vaccination plan after reaching his previous goal of 100 million shots 42 days ahead of schedule, both of which support optimism in the dollar.
Data on US personal consumption due later on Friday was also on traders' radars.
"The extent of the strength (of the dollar) is more because of Biden's stimulus package," said Derek Halpenny, head of research for global markets at MUFG.
Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
The American Rescue Plan explained
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm held a Q&A to answer some of the questions US citizens have over the American Rescue Plan and how it will be used on a wider scale beyond the new round of stimulus checks and local and state aid packages.
Weekly jobless claims fall; fourth-quarter growth revised up
Fewer than expected Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week as economic activity rebounds after weather-related disruptions in February, but it would likely take years for the labor market to fully recover from the pandemic's scarring.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 684,000 for the week ended March 20, down from 781,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 730,000 applications in the latest week.
Claims shot up in the second week of March, likely as backlogs after severe winter storms in Texas and other parts of the densely populated South region were processed.
The deep freeze in the second half of February, which also gripped other parts of the country, depressed retail sales, homebuilding, production at factories, orders and shipments of manufactured goods last month.
Warmer weather, the White House's $1.9 trillion covid-19 pandemic rescue package and increased vaccinations are expected to boost activity in March. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell struck an optimistic note on the economy at an appearance before lawmakers this week.
"It is going to be a very, very strong year in the most likely case," Powell said in response to a senator's question on the economic outlook.
Photo by SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
American Rescue Plan is sowing signs of hope for economy
Joe Biden on Thursday said the economic outlook is brightening thanks to the recent passage of his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, and a majority of economists now expect growth this year to exceed six percent.
"Since we passed the American Rescue Plan, we're starting to see new signs of hope in our economy," Biden said during his first press conference since taking office in January. "Since it was passed, a majority ... of economic forecasters have significantly increased their projections on the economic growth that's going to take place this year. They're now projecting it will exceed 6% growth in GDP."
Indeed, that may understate how quickly the economy may grow this year as covid-19 vaccine rollouts gather pace, allowing greater freedom of movement and activity, and as the stimulus bill boosts consumer spending.
Just last week, Federal Reserve officials signaled they expect growth of 6.5% this year, which if achieved would mark the fastest expansion since the 1980s, and some private forecasters have predicted the economy will grow in excess of 7% this year. That would mark a dramatic upward swing following the 3.5% contraction suffered in 2020, the steepest annual downturn in more than seven decades.
Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP
CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECK
Third stimulus check: how to check its status with the IRS Get My Payment tool
Want to check on the status of your incoming stimulus check? The IRS Get My Payment tracker is a handy online tool that will give you all the information you need on the ongoing payment distribution.
The IRS confirmed yesterday that they have already sent around 127 million payments out, the vast majority of which were direct deposits into bank accounts. From now on they will be focusing on the physical stimulus checks and Economic Impact Payment debit cards, which take a bit longer to produce and send out.
Warren: Child Tax Credit should address pandemic's economic damage
Democrats are talking up the benefits of the American Rescue Plan, which they hope will make a real difference for childcare providers. The number of women in work has fallen to its lowest level since 1988 over the course of the pandemic with working mothers increasingly burdened with childcare responsibilities.
They hope that the new Child Tax Credit will provide the funding needed to give more options to working women, and allow them to stay in employment if they wish. The White House has said that the Child Tax Credit and other programmes will particularly benefit women of colour who have been worst hit by the economic fall out of the pandemic.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
What's the maximum families can get with the third stimulus check, Child Tax Credit and unemployment benefits?
The American Rescue Plan includes hundreds of billions of dollars in direct support that will be going straight into the pockets of families across the country. Aside from the third stimulus check, there is a complete overhaul of the Child Tax Credit programme and an extension to the existing unemployment benefits provision.
There is nothing preventing people receiving all three of these vital sources of federal support, so we take a look at the maximum amount that a typical family is able to claim. Some is in the form of a one-off payment and some comes as weekly or monthly direct deposits, but there are thousands of dollars of support on offer.
SSA provides info to process 30 million stimulus checks
After previously delaying the process, it is being reported that the Social Security Administration has now provided the information required for the IRS to initiate stimulus check payments for an estimated 30 million Social Security recipients.
In recent days the House Ways and Means Committee had called on the SSA to expediate the details that were preventing millions from getting their $1,400 payments. The fact that SS recipients are typically in greater need of financial support made the delay even more agonising. This does not mean that the payments will be made immediately, but should remove the barrier that had seen them denied the support until now.
Bitesize Biden briefing
The president on Thursday gave his first formal solo news conference after assuming office in January, during which among other things he discussed running for re-election, the progress of the covid vaccine rollout, Afghanistan, North Korea and his predecessor Donald Trump.
Bloomberg took the highlights and condensed them into a three-minute video.
Stimulus check live updates: welcome
Hello and welcome to our daily live blog providing you with updates on the third round of stimulus checks, which is being sent out as part of President Joe Biden's $1.9tn American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief package.
We'll also be bringing you updates on a possible fourth stimulus check, and information on other economic-aid measures in Biden's bill, such as an enhanced child tax credit and supplemented unemployment benefits.