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Fourth stimulus check news summary: Saturday 20 December

Update:
President Joe Biden delivers remarks promoting his "Build Back Better Agenda" at the Capitol Child Development Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Headlines

- Omicron sends US markets down

- Manchin walks away from Build Back Better negotiations  

- Senator Manchin says he will not support the Build Back Better bill - what next for the Child Tax Credit?

- Senate goes on Christmas recess without Child Tax Credit extension - January payments will be delayed

- Double Child Tax Credit in February possible, says White House press sec Psaki

-Build Back Better bill stalled by opposition of moderate Dems

- Federal Reserve to reduce stimulus spending in coming months to combat inflation

Useful information & links

Child Tax Credit

-President Biden in fight to seal Child Tax Credit extension

- Final monthly Child Tax Credit payment of 2021 distributed on 15 December

Stimulus checks

- Could the Omicron variant lead to another federal stimulus check in the US?

- Some Atlantamedical students get $6,300 stimulus check

-New parents could see another stimulus check reflected in their tax refund in 2022

- What's the deadline to get your stimulus check plus-up payment in 2021?

- Will Social Security recipients get another stimulus check?

Social Security

- How many Social Security payments are still to be sent out in 2021?

- When does COLA 2022 take effectin Social Security benefits?

- How much will the 5.9% COLA increase affect Social Security benefits?

Unemployment

- What is the natural unemployment rate formula?

Latest articles:

2021 tax-filing deadline extended for tornado victims

Those who have been affected by the recent tornadoes in parts of Illinois and Tennessee will have until May 16, 2022, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service has announced. This is the same relief already provided to storm victims in Kentucky.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on 10 December. Affected individuals and businesses will have until 16 May to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes 2021 individual income tax returns due on 18 April, as well as various 2021 business returns normally due on 15 March and 18 April. This means that affected taxpayers will have until 16 May to make 2021 IRA contributions.

How much have prices increased in the last year?

Since November 2020, consumer prices have increased 6.8 percent, the quickest increase since the early 1980s. The products that have seen the largest increases include gasoline, shelter, food, used cars and trucks, and new vehicles. 

Food prices have increased 6.4 percent over the last year, with "meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increasing12.8 percent, [and ...] the index for beef rising 20.9 percent."

Read more. 

Why does Joe Manchin oppose the Build Back Better bill?

US NEWS

Why does Joe Manchin oppose the Build Back Better bill?

After months of disagreements with the White House and other Democratic leaders, Joe Manchin walked away from the negotiating table over the Build Back Better bill. Manchin says that he cannot justify the bill to his constitutes, but many critics believe that there are other factors motivating his decision. 

Without Manchin's vote, the prospects of the bill are nearly dead, as no Republicans have shown any signs of supporting the trillion-dollar package. Read more in our full coverage. 

When does COLA 2022 take effect in Social Security Benefits? How to calculate your amount

Social Security

When does COLA 2022 take effect in Social Security Benefits? How to calculate your amount

The first round of payments with the 5.9 percent COLA increase reflected, will be ent by the Social Security Administration on 31 December 2021. Throughout January the remaining beneficiaries will see their first check with the increase.

The increase makes history as the highest offered to seniors in over forty years and is mostly a result of higher than normal inflation brought on by multiple factors resulting from the covid-19 pandemic.

The Senior Citizens League, an organization that advocates for seniors in the United States has noted that over the last few decades the COLAs applied to social security benefits have not kept up with actual price increases in the market. 

We also passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill — something that, again, will make sure that we’re replacing lead pipes across the country; make sure we’re expanding access to broadband and creating tens of millions — or not tens of millions — let me remedy that — millions of good-paying union jobs. And we’ve also vaccinated 200 million Americans.
 

Jen Psaki, Press Secretary

There are more than 11 million jobs open in the United States

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a new report that showed job sixteen states saw an increase in the number of job openings in October. The largest increases were seen in Hawaii (+3.5 percentage points), Minnesota (+1.9 points), andKentucky (+1.2 points). Major decreases were seen in Maine (-1.0 percentage point) and Virginia (-0.7 point).

The number of quits has been widely covered in recent months. Twelve states saw a decrease in the number of quits, one was an increase, and the rest remained steady. The more significant decreases were seen in Hawaii (-3.8 percentage points), New Hampshire (-1.1 points), and Montana (-0.9 point). Kansas was an increase. 

Bernie Sanders responds to Joe Manchin's rejection of the Build Back Better bill

Senator Bernie Sanders sat down with CNN's Jake Tapper to discuss the move by Manchin. Sanders said that Manchin will have a lot of explaining to do to his constituents. The Senator noted that West Virginia has been struggling economically and many of the benefits of the bill could have helped people access healthcare, childcare, or continue their own education. 

Manchin walks away from the negotiations with the White House

Senator Joe Manchin has made comments that he will walk away from discussions with the White House over the Build Back Better bill. Eddie Glaude told MSNBC that he believes Manchin negotiated with the President in "bad faith." Glaude is the head of the African American Department at Princeton Univerity. Glaude said that Joe Manchin is like a "relic" who wants us to go back to a past time of politics that does not match the urgency of the moment. 

The White House has released a heated statement about their disappointment that Manchin has walked away from the negociations. But some beleive that the adminstration may be hurting their chances of getting other priorities accomplsihed before the Mid-Term elections in November. 

Biden should take Manchin's deal without the Child Tax Credit extension

Jonathan Chait, writer for New York magazine, argues that President Joe Biden shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth and take Senator Joe Manchin's counter-offer to the Build Back Better Act being debated in the Senate.

The $1.8 trillion proposal by the senator included fewer proposals but kept them going for longer. One of the main priorities for the Biden administration and Democrats that was not included in Manchin's proposal, a one-year extension of the enhanced Child Tax Credit.

Chait suggests a possible workaround to get a 50th vote on extending the Child Tax Credit expansion, try to pass it separately with the help of Senator Mitt Romney. Although there would be complications with that plan Romney may be a willing partner. Last spring he presented his own proposal for expanding the Child Tax Credit.

We're ready to move forward and get this done and work like hell to do that. With Senator Manchin, with members of the Democratic Caucus, across the Democratic Party and that's our focus moving forward. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Speaking to reporters about White House's plans for Build Back Better Act

White House outlines plans for Build Back Better moving forward

White House press secretary Jen Psaki took questions on Monday on what the Biden administration plans to do after Senator Joe Manchin on Sunday said he will not vote for the Build Back Better Act.

What is the Social Security early retirement penalty chart?

SOCIAL SECURITY

What is the Social Security early retirement penalty chart?

For those fed up with the grind of the nine-to-five and nearing retirement age, it might be tempting to take advantage of the fund they’ve built up through Social Security at the first possible opportunity. However, retiring before full retirement age will result in lower monthly payments than you would otherwise receive.

To help Americans plan for when the best time for them to retire is, the Social Security Administration provides an early retirement penalty chart. That way you can calculate whether or not it is worth giving up your regular paycheck and live off your retirement account and savings.

Full details

Manchin has low opinion of how Americans would use policies in Build Back Better bill

The Build Back Better bill that is under consideration in the Senate includes numerous climate-action and social investment policies. However, after saying he  could not vote for the bill Senate Joe Manchin may have just sunk any chance of passing the legislation. Democrats need all 50 votes they can muster in the Senate to pass the bill.

According to reporting in the HuffPost, although publically saying that his concerns over the bill were due to the high cost of the proposals, Manchin was privately telling colleagues that he thought people wouldn't use the benefits of two proposals in particular wisely.

He was worried that low-income parents would use the Child Tax Credit payments to buy drugs and people would call in sick taking advantage of paid leave to go on hunting trips.

Child Tax Credit wasn't included in Sen. Manchin's offer to Biden

President Joe Biden and Senator Joe Manchin had been in one-on-one talks to get get the bulk of Biden's agenda over the finish line before Christmas. However, on Sunday the senator kiboshed the Build Back Better bill being debated in the Senate when he said he could not vote for it. 

The rebuke from the White House and Democratic colleagues has been swift calling it betrayal. A statement from the White House surprise at Manchin's announcement referring to a counter-proposal the senator made to Biden "that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities."

Sources told the Washington Post that that private offer included $1.8 trillion in spending covering an extension of the ACA expansion, climate-related funds, and universal pre-K for 10 years. However abscent was an extension of the enhanced Child Tax Credit. In recent days Manchin has said that he wanted the extension, if any, to be for 10 years and not just a temporary one-year extension.

Residents in the Sacramento area receiving Golden State Stimulus

The California Franchise Tax Board is sending out another 803,000 Golden State Stimulus checks in the latest batch of $600 tax rebates. Households with at least one dependent will get an additional $500.

The FTB has sent most of the direct deposit  and is currently sending out paper check payments based on ZIP codes. The most recent batch will head to areas around Sacramento.

The second round of checks was part of the largest tax rebate in history thanks to an unexpected $75 billion budget surplus. 

Child Tax Credit helped families meet basic needs

President Biden's Build Back Better agenda got a major setback on Sunday when Senator Joe Manchin said that he was a "No" vote on the bill before the Senate. The sweeping legislation included the bulk of Biden's proposals on climate change that was left out of the bipartisan infrastructure bill as well as social policy initiatives to help families across the nation.

One measure that has already been helped reduce childhood poverty by over 40 percent and given household income a monthly financial boost was the enhanced Child Tax Credit. Under the American Rescue Plan the credit was enlarged, made fully refundable and created an advance payment scheme. 

The Build Back Better bill under consideration in the Senate would have extended those changes for another year. However, citing the need to tackle the covid-19 pandemic in light of the Omicron variant and deal with inflation, Manchin said he couldn't vote for the bill.

The virus has kept many parents at home and out of the workforce reducing household income at a time when prices are rising, in large part to disruptions from the pandemic. The majority of households that received the six monthly instalments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit used them to cover those basic necessities.

Who's eligible for the IRS Saver's Credit?

TAX FILING

Who's eligible for the IRS Saver's Credit?

Taxpayers who are 18 or older have the opportunity to put money away for when they retire and at the same time reduce how much they own to Uncle Sam. The Saver’s Credit, also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit can lower your tax burden by up to $2,000 when you contribute to a qualifying retirement account.

The tax credit is targeted at taxpayers with moderate to low incomes but many in this group are unaware of the savings that they are eligible for on their tax bill. Contributing to a retirement account could also be used for a tax deduction lowering your adjusted gross income and potentially further reducing the amount of taxes owed.

Read more.

House Progressives proved right by Manchin actions

The fallout from Sen. Joe Manchin's refusal to support the Build Back Better plan has continued today. For the members of 'The Squad' who voted against a separate infrastructure bill in November, Manchin’s effective killing of the bill, which cannot pass without his vote, represented exactly what they warned would happen if the House passed the infrastructure bill without firm commitment from Manchin or a Senate vote on Build Back Better.

“We have been saying for weeks that this would happen,” Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush said on MSNBC Sunday. “What we had was a bit of leverage, which was having the coupling of the two bills — the BIF, the infrastructure package, as well as the Build Back Better Act … And what did the caucus do? We tossed it.”

Fed stimulus ending to speed up

The Federal Reserve is pivoting hard from a patient approach to pulling back support for the U.S. economy. 

Fed officials on Wednesday charted a much faster return from the unprecedented stimulus they deployed at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic than they’d initially planned. The bank’s policymaking committee announced it would aim to end its monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage bonds by March, and expects to hike interest rates roughly three times by the end of 2022.

The Fed has held off on reducing stimulus even as inflation rose for much of this year. Millions of workers remained on the sidelines for more than a year and officials were reluctant to cut support, expecting more Americans to return to work as the pandemic eased and fiscal stimulus faded.

When does COLA 2022 take effect in Social Security Benefits? How to calculate your amount

Social Security

When does COLA 2022 take effect in Social Security Benefits? How to calculate your amount

Social Security recipients have seen the purchasing power of their monthly benefits eroded over the past few decades, especially with exceptionally high inflation in 2021. Relief, to some degree, is on its way after the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced on 13 October that in 2022 those receiving benefits from the agency, including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and more, would see a 5.9 percent increase reflected in their check.

The agency calculated the 2022 Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by looking at the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for July, August, and September. The increased payments will begin with checks the go out for January 2022.

Read more.

Decoupling of the bills could be at fault for Manchin failure

Manchin’s announcement is a particular blow to Biden, who billed the Build Back Better Act as the second half of his legislative agenda, after the passage of a bipartisan bill which focused on the country’s crumbling physical infrastructure. The bipartisan bill was a priority for Manchin, and progressives in Congress worried that once it was approved, they would lose all leverage in getting the Build Back Better Act to pass.

The bipartisan bill passed in the House in November, with Democratic leadership rallying most of their members to vote for the measure with the promise that the Build Back Better Act would also get support from moderates in both chambers. Only six progressive Democrats voted against the bipartisan bill, owing to skepticism about Manchin’s willingness to support the Build Back Better Act—skepticism that now appears to have been justified. 

Senate closes for the year with little to show for 2021

The Senate wrapped up its work for the year, with Democrats punting work on Build Back Better and a debate over changing the rules into 2022. 

The Senate adjourned for the year early Saturday morning after a marathon of votes that lasted throughout the day Friday, into a rare all-night session and threatened to drag into next week without an agreement.  

The Senate will now return to Washington on January 3, absent seconds-long, constitutionally mandated sessions over the holidays where no votes will occur and only one senator will be present. 

Despite the passing of the infrastructure bill, little of the President's plan has been implemented.

2021 Child Tax Credit: how will it affect my 2022 tax return?

CHILD TAX CREDIT

2021 Child Tax Credit: how will it affect my 2022 tax return?

On Wednesday 15 December, the IRS began distributing the sixth round of direct payments from the expanded Child Tax Credit, the final batch provided for by the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

Congress passed the ARP back in March and the $1.9 trillion relief package expanded the decades-old Child Tax Credit program to include direct monthly payments for the first time. However only one year of funding was ensured by the ARP and the monthly payments will end with the December installment.

But what does all this mean for tax filing in 2022? Can you still rely on a Child Tax Credit to reduce the size of your family’s tax bill, or even use it to boost a tax refund?

Read more.

Lawmaker floats alternative Build Back Better legislation

It appears that the President Biden's ambitious legislation lay in tatters. However, Sen. Ron Wyden has already come forward with a revised version of the package which may be more palatable for moderates like Manchin, while retaining some key measures like the Child Tax Credit expansion. 

Build Back Better refusal could cost poverty accomplishments

The package includes an extension to the expanded Child Tax Credit which has been in place since July, and has brought about a marked decrease in childhood poverty in the last six months. Refusal to back that for next year will throw hundreds of thousands of people back into the lurch.

Manchin rejects Build Back Better: what does this mean for the Child Tax Credit?

US NEWS

Manchin rejects Build Back Better: what does this mean for the Child Tax Credit?

Key moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin has announced that he is not willing to support the Build Back Better bill, the $2 trillion package that is a key part of President Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda.

The bill would have expanded the social safety net and provided a raft of new incentives to promote green energy practices in the United States. It included extra funding for the Child Tax Credit which would have allowed the popular monthly payments to have continued for at least another year.

Read more.

Senator Joe Manchin made a promise to President Biden to support a framework that would help lower health care costs, cap the price of insulin and other prescription drugs, lower child care costs for Americans, address the climate crisis, and give working people and poor people a shot in America.

"Today, Senator Manchin has betrayed his commitment not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but most importantly, to the American people. He routinely touts that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say that. West Virginians, and the country, see clearly who he is."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Statement on Comments by Senator Manchin

White House press secretary responds to Senator Manchin's comments on Fox

Senator Joe Manchin told Bret Baier on "Fox News Sunday" that he would not support the $1.75 trillion bill that would invest in social and climate policy prompted by President Biden. The President and Manchin had been meeting one on one to bridge the gaps between the senator's position and the bill the House passed in November. 

Press secretary Jen Psaki took the Senator to task on the concerns he cited for why he can't support the legislation in a long statement released by the White House.

Good morning and welcome to AS USA’s daily live blog for Monday 20 December 2021, in which we’ll be bringing you the latest news on President Biden's Build Back Better bill, and the attempts to extend the enhanced monthly Child Tax Credit payments as part of the proposed legislation.

We'll also provide you with updates on a potential fourth federal stimulus check in the US, as well as information on unemployment and Social Security benefits.

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