Fourth stimulus check | News summary 16 November
Democrats pushing forward with Build Back Better bill
The Build Back Better Bill was supposed to pass in tandem with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, at least that is what many in the Democratic party wanted. But after a poor showing at the polls in several off-year elections Democrats felt the urgency to get at least part of Biden's agenda put into action.
The infrastructure bill had been passed by the Senate in August, but had been awaiting a vote in the House. Held up by progressives in the party to ensure the passage of the larger companion spending package, most voted to let the infrastructure bill head to Biden's desk with a promise from moderates to vote for the Build Back Better Bill when the CBO gives its score on how it will affect the deficit.
That score is expected now by the end of the week.
Dams to get much needed funding from infrastructure bill
Historically, the US averages around 10dam failuresper year, but since 1980 that number increased to 19. Most of these are small scale events and don't put lives in danger, but a double dam failure in May 2020 caused extensive flooding in Midland, Michigan. Fortunately no lives were lost but led to 250,000 homes and businesses damaged at a cost of $175 million.
The $3 billion in the bipartisan infrastructure bill dedicated to repairing and removing unsafe dams is a drop in the bucket when compared to the $1.2 trillion of overall investment in the bill. But it is a major increase on the $400 million over the past decade provided by FEMA, usually to repair damage after a natural disaster.
Department of Justice chargers individuals who fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice and Labor announced that hundreds of billions of dollars had been lost to fradulent unemployment claims. Since then the Department of Justice has charged several individuals with crimes related to this fraud. Today, the Los Angeles US Attorney published a press release stateing that three individuals had been sentenced to federal prison for their role in this sort of scam.
Prices, including beef are reaching record highs
NBC News reports that the price of beef has increased more than twenty-percent, the largest recorded in thirty years. However, cattle ranchers have yet to see any additional profits from the increase because of the simultaneous increase in feed and other goods needed for production.
NBC explains how the industry is structured and where along the supply chain some comapanies are able to profit from the historic increase.
The Center on Medicare and Medicaid has announced the premiums and deductibles for Medicare Part A & B. Many members could pay as much as fifteen percent more for their health coverage.
The price of the premium for Medicare Part B, which most members are required to pay, will increase fifteen percent from $148.50 to $171. This increase is almost triple the Social Security Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) those on social security will see reflected in their benefits next year.
As for deductables, the amount each members is required to pay before their benefits kick in will increase from $203 in 2021 to $230 in 2022.
Much of the money from federal stimulus bills has gone to the airline industry. When the pandemic hit, many of these companies nearly bankruptcy when stay at home a orders banned much domestic and international travel. But as many economists have now shown that the industry often struggles to turn profits which can make an economic shock, like the pandemic a death sentence without intervention.
Who controls the price of gas in the United States?
Gas prices are contining their upward climb, but what is driving up the price across the nation?
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues that Congress should extend the child tax credit into 2022, saying that it "benefits roughly 9 in 10 children across the country, and already data show signs of success."
Their own research has shown that "vast majority of parents with low incomes are spending their Child Tax Credit payments on basic needs such as food, housing, utility bills, and education, which can help give their children a stronger start in life."
Over half a million people in Maine will receive a stimulus check from their state government in the coming weeks. The announcement came from Governor Janet Mills after a bipartisan bill allowing for a check worth $285 was passed earlier this month.
Gov Mill hopes the direct payment will “help Maine families to some small degree during the holiday season as we work to fully recover our economy.” Read more.
Several million people in the United States are unemployed but not looking for work. Throughout the pandemic, fears over the virus have been one of the main drivers keeping people from looking for their next gig. However, the BLS has reported that this rate has continued to fall.
In October, the rate was 7.9% down from a high of 52.6 percent in May 2020.
California has added the most jobs of any state
California is the seventh largest economy in the world and the most populous state in the nation. While the unemployment rate remains high relative to the national average, the state has added the most jobs to the economy.
Joe Manchin still hesitant to support reconciliation bill
New reporting shows that Senator Joe Manchin is still not sold on the Democrat led reconciliation bill. His vote is needed for the legislatiion to pass in the Senate and without his support, the chances of the bill becoming law before Christmas or ever are slim.
Manchin hints that pre-Christmas vote wil be difficult
The prospect of passing the Build Back Better bill before Congress' Christmas break has been a target for high-ranking Democrats in recent weeks, but key moderate Sen. Joe Manchin has suggested that they may not be possible.
Although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has reiterated his desire to get the Build Back Better bill on the Senate floor in December, it will not happen unless he and President Biden are sure they have the required votes to pass it.
Infrastructure bill provides boost for tribal authorities
Yesterday President Biden finally signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill into law, securing $1 billion of federal funding to overhaul the nation's creaking physical infrastructure system. The big-ticket items like road, rail and broadband were headline-makers, but Biden has reiterated the importance of some other inclusions.
For example, $13 billion will be sent to tribal authorities for targeted projects aims to ensure that they are not marginalised.
A number of states have moved, in the absence of a fourth stimulus check from the federal government, to provide their own direct payments for certain residents. California's Golden State stimulus checks are perhaps the most well-known, but the Maine legislature has now passed a bill providing cash for residents.
Maine Governor Janet Mills said: “As a result of the bipartisan budget passed by the Legislature and signed by me, my Administration will send one-time payments of $285 to more than half a million working Maine people. I hope this will help Maine families to some small degree during the holiday season as we work to fully recover our economy.”
Stores continue economic regrowth
The retail sector was hit badly by the pandemic last year year, with covid-19 restrictions and financial insecurity preventing people from shopping as they usually would. However the third quarter of 2021 appears to be showing signs of recovery for many retailers, thanks in part to the removal of restrictions and the long-term consequences of the stimulus checks and other federal mechanisms designed to boost spending power.
A key change to the Child Tax Credit eligibility requirements would ensure that families without a Social Security Number (SSN) would be able to receive the monthly direct payments, provided Congress passes the Build Back Better agenda. A 2017 tax law made the SSN a requirement but Biden is eager to remove it and expand eligibility.
"For decades, politicians have talked about addressing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Today, we are going to deliver."
"Our bipartisan infrastructure bill shows that Congress can deliver for the American people when members from both sides of the aisle are willing to work together to address the critical needs of our country."
Sanders outlines the benefits of Child Tax Credit
The Child Tax Credit expansion was one of the key inclusions in the American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year, but despite already showing positive results President Biden is struggling to secure an extension to the programme. The new system provides a monthly Child Tax Credit payment for an estimated 35 million households, something that progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders is eager to ensure remains.
When first introduced in the American Rescue Plan back in March the White House was optimistic about that impact that the expanded Child Tax Credit could have on society, claiming that the payments could help halve the number of children in poverty over the course of a year.
The programme forms a central part of President Biden’s Build Back Better legislative agenda and one that he is determined to see included in the upcoming spending bill. But studies suggest that millions of low-income families are not being sent the money that they are entitled to.
Calls for Social Security 2100 to be passed
Last month's announcement of the 5.9% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2022 was a boost for the roughly 70 million Americans who receive payments every month. However there are some in Congress who are concerned that the funds which cover the costs of the various Social Security programmes may not be able to sustain the payments in the future.
The Social Security 2100 Act aims to ensure that there is sufficient funding and prevent a drop-off in coverage for beneficiaries.
Some states are continuing with payments for those in and out of work this year. There has already been three proper stimulus checks sent out in the 18 months, and other states have also issued their own direct payments for residents.
But can they really be considered stimulus checks?
Warnock pushes Build Back Better passage
Sen. Raphael Warnock, whose victory in the crucial Georgia Senate run-off elections earlier this year handed the Democrats control of the Senate, has reiterated his commitment to Biden's Build Back Better proposals. The President is determined to pass the remainder of his ambitious spending proposals before Congress breaks for Christmas but needs to secure the support of every one of his 50-member caucus in the Upper House to ensure it is successful.
Moderate Republicans reiterate support for infrastructure bill
Roughly 18% of congressional Republicans who voted for the popular infrastructure legislation are attending the afternoon signing at the White House, but have reportedly faced abuse from constituents who object to their support of Biden-led policy. Without the successful bipartisan negotiations, the bill would not have been passed, a testament to cross-party unity.
"For too long, we've talked about having the best economy in the world. We've talked about asserting American leadership in the world with the best and safest roads, railways, ports, and airports. Here in Washington, we've heard countless speeches, promises, and white papers from the experts.
"But today, we are finally getting it done. And my message to the American people is: America is moving again. And your life is going to change for the better."
How will the infrastructure bill affect me?
The huge infrastructure package President Biden signed into law yesterday included a significant funding boost for roads, bridges and public transportation across the country. And every state is looking to see what that means for them on a local level.
For Ohio, the impending law could mean a whole host of things: Money for Columbus transportation projects, a new bridge to ease congestion on the Brent Spence Bridge, broadband in Appalachia and maybe even Amtrak routes.
Federal and local officials say it's too soon to tell how the money could be spent in the Buckeye State in the coming years, but ground could start breaking on some projects as early as next year.
"These communities are ready for this," Sen. Sherrod Brown said.
Federal Reserve aims to improve on pre-pandemic economy
The issue of inflation will figure centrally in Federal Reserve as the government agency looks to plot the nation's continued economic recovery.
The Fed's focus is on high inflation it hopes is mostly pandemic related and likely to ease without the need for higher interest rates. President Joe Biden's focus, as we've been reporting, is on a just-passed $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a follow-on $1.75 trillion Build Back Better package, which focuses on education, healthcare and climate change.
"We have been so focused on short-term recovery," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at payroll processor ADP, but "it is not just about going back to where we started, it is really taking stock of where we are and the structural changes that have been produced by covid."
Former First Lady supports Child Tax Credit expansion
Former First Lady and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has outlined her support for the extension of the new CHild Tax Credit, which provides monthly payemnts worth up to $300 for each eligible child. Among the benefits of this, she points to the 41% reduction in child poverty becoming the norm for the long-term.
It is though that roughly 70 million people who will receive Social Securty payments in 2022 will see their monthly aid increased by 5.9%, thanks to the biggest year-on-year COLA since 1982.
The reason behind the vast adjustment needed is simple: the pandemic has caused consumer prices to spike, with energy prices rising, as well as water, food, housing and healthcare also going up. The higher the consuming cost, the higher the money needed to cover the expenses.
Build Back Better edges closer
President Biden has told reporters at the White House that he is confident of his Build Back Better agenda getting off the ground this week Congress is on the verge of passing legislation to implement critical parts of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better initiative.
Negotiations have been long, but it has long been touted that agreement between progressives and moderates is close.
Biden finally signs Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
President Biden was joined by eight of the 32 Republicans that voted for the infrastructure bill in Congress in addition to numerous Democratic lawmakers from both chambers. A number of state and local officials from both parties, as well as business and labor leaders took part in the celebration on Monday. The $1.2 trillion bill is the largest investment in US infrastructure in nearly seven decades.
Hello, good morning and welcome to AS USA's coverage of the ongoing Build Back Better negotiations in Congress. Despite months of talks, President Biden is yet to secure the votes of all 50 Democrats in the Senate, forcing him to compromise on some priority inclusions.
On Monday he signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill into law but the Child Tax Credit expansion is under threat. Here's all the latest news as it develops.