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Fourth stimulus check news summary: Tuesday 21 December

Update:
US President Joe Biden arrives to board Air Force One at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in West Columbia, South Carolina, on December 17, 2021.

Stimulus and benefits: latest news

Headlines

- US markets down on fears about Omicron and Build Back Better not passing

- 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

- 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?

-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?

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?

Latest articles:

Manchin priorities: Child Tax Credit or donors?

'As hard as it is to believe, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III reportedly blew up negotiations for the Build Back Better bill not over provisions to address climate change or tax proposals affecting wealthy Americans, but over the child tax credit that has lifted millions of children out of poverty.

'That makes even less sense considering Manchin’s home state of West Virginia is among the poorest states in the country.'

Jennifer Rubin gives her view for the Post.

Schumer pushes for January vote

During the Senate Democrats caucus meeting, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed to hold a vote in January on Build Back Better to create pressure for a deal.

“I know we are all frustrated at this outcome,” Schumer told his members, using the party's initialism for the bill known as Build Back Better.

However, we are not giving up on BBB. Period. We won’t stop working on it until we pass a bill,” according to a Democratic source on the call

“In the New Year, we will have a vote on the Motion to Proceed to the House-passed bill,” and he added he plans to make the Senate substitute amendment the current Senate text as published.

 

CBS takes a look at shifts in the labor market

The job market is shifting. The number of unemployed people currently looking for a job was neared pre-pandemic levels, yet businesses are still struggling to staff up-- more than 11 million jobs remain open. Additionally, with the labor market on the side of workers, many have quit in record numbers in looking for higher pay and greater flexibility. CBS took a greater look at these forces. 

cpi

How much have prices increased in recent months?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that over the last twelve months prices have increased 6.8 percent. Our team took a look at the percent increases seen in September, October, and November in the food, energy, and rental categories. 

Biden sees hope where many see despair

During President Biden's address to the nation on the Omicron variant he took a few questions from the press. A few repoerters asked if he felt that the negociations with Senator Joe Manchin were truly over, and the Presidnet offered an optomistic perspective that a compromise could still be reached with the Senator from West Viriginia. 

Biden

Will Social Security beneficiaries get a fourth stimulus check?

In New York, new covid-19 cases rose 60% in the week that ended on Sunday as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly around the US northeast. New York has set records for the most new cases reported in a single day since the pandemic started for three consecutive days. This has given a boost to the prospect of further stimulus checks as the risk of great economic trouble lies ahead.

The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan advocacy group, started a pressure campaign to push Congress to send those receiving Social Security additional stimulus money.

Full details

Elon Musk worth over $200 billion will finally pay billions in taxes

Elon Musk, Time's Person of the Year, and individual with the highest net worth, announced that he will pay $11 billion in taxes this year. He got into a tussle with Democratic lawmakers last month over their proposal for a "billionaires tax". That led him to ask his Twitter followers if he should sell some of his stock portfolio to pay income taxes since he doesn't take a salary from Tesla, the company he runs.

The move was more show than anything. Musk has until August 2022 to convert 23 million stock options he has been given by Tesla in lieu of a salary or lose them. That in turn would have incurred a multi-billion-dollar tax bill itself. 

ProPublica reported that he paid no taxes in 2018, and less that $70,000 the two years prior to that.

What is the $2,000 Saver’s Credit and how to claim it through the IRS

TAX FILING

What is the $2,000 Saver’s Credit and how to claim it through the IRS

It’s never to soon to start saving for retirement nor too early to prepare for tax season. The Saver’s Credit can help you reduce your tax liability by up to $2,000 while at the same time putting money away for your golden years.

The credit, also known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit, is targeted at lower to middle income taxpayers and is fairly straightforward to claim. However, few know about this credit among the very group of taxpayers that would most benefit from it.

Here’s a lookat how you can kill two birds with one stone.

Some people think I'm not Irish because I don't hold a grudge. Look, I want to get things done. I still think there's a possibility of getting Build Back Better done.

President Biden, Responding to whether he felt Senator Manchin broke his word on the Build Back Better bill

All the talk about how my Build Back Better plan was going to increase inflation and cause these debts. What happened? Goldman Sachs and others said if we don't pass Build Back Better we're in trouble. Because it's going to grow the economy and without it we're not going to grow. And what happened? Stock prices went way down.

President Biden, addressing the press after his plans to tackle Omicron variant

Biden gives impromtu press conference on Build Back Better bill

After presenting his plan for how the US would tackle the Omicron variant, President Biden took questions from the press. When asked if Senator Manchin had broken his word and how he would rebuild trust among Democrats, Biden gave an impromtu press conference on the future of the Build Back Better Act.

Potential extension of student debt relief

Interest on student loans and payments have been on pause since March 2020. This has given much needed breathing room to indebted  Americans during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. But that moratorium is set to expire in just over a month's time, or is it?

While direct federal payments to households expire cities push forward

The covid-19 pandemic brought back a concept that was thrown out in the 1990s, giving those in need cash, no strings attached. The US has sent out three rounds of stimulus checks and set up a monthly basic income scheme through the Child Tax Credit advance payments.

Both programs helped alleviate hardship imposed by the fallout from the covid-19 induced economic crisis. The latter is credited with reducing childhood poverty by over 40 percent this year, but it will now expire at the end of the month. The Senate went on recess without taking a vote on the Build Back Better Act which would have extended the measure for one more year.

Although federal help is drying up, cities around the US are stepping up and implementing their own direct payment schemes to help households in need. They hope that their experience will convince lawmakers in Washington to do so in an ongoing way on a national level.

Studies on the programs, which let people spend the money they receive where they need to, show that recipients were more likely to be working full-time, pay bills on time and spend less on alcohol and drugs than before the payments.

Will Social Security beneficiaries get a fourth stimulus check?

US NEWS

Will Social Security beneficiaries get a fourth stimulus check?

More than 169 million payments have been sent out in the third round of stimulus checks, but groups are continuing to push for a fourth as inflation continues to bite, as well as the emergence of a new covid-19 variant, Omicron, that is scaring markets.

Earlier this fall, the Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan advocacy group, started a pressure campaign to push Congress to send those receiving Social Security additional stimulus money. In a letter to leaders of Congress, TSCL Chairman Rick Delaney called for a one-off $1,400 Social Security stimulus payment for seniors.

Full details

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.

Read more.

Manchin not serious when worried about inflation

Joe Manchin has criticized the Build Back Better plan for costing too much, and that it would add to the US's eye-watering $29 trillion debt. But he was more than happy to vote through one of the Pentagon's the largest budgets in recent years, one that will cost significantly more than the Build Back Better plan.

The Senate passed a $768 billion defense bill, sending legislation to President Biden that increased the Pentagon’s budget by roughly $24 billion more than he requested. This is more than twice as much as what the social spending plan would cost a year.

And this is supposed to be in a year when the US 'exited' its wars.

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.

10 million children will fall into poverty when Child Tax Credit ends

With the enhanced Child Tax Credit ending this month, nearly 10 million children are at risk of falling back below the poverty line or slipping even deeper into poverty, according to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank.

Another 27 million will lose all or part of the credit, including roughly half of Black and Latino children and those in rural areas. All 65 million kids that are eligible for the credit will get less in the new year.

Covid-19 live updates today: Omicron cases, stats, Biden address, travel restrictions, vaccines...

US NEWS

Covid-19 live updates today: Omicron cases, stats, Biden address, travel restrictions, vaccines...

While stimulus checks have been put on ice, the underlying cause of them, covid-19, is certainly not. The world is experiencing another wave of the virus, and its spread could threaten the US economy, potentially opening the window for more government support in the future.

We have a new live feed charting the course of the virus. President Biden is giving a press conference later to discuss the US's reaction to the latest wave.

[Manchin] has had absolutely no pressure. Biden’s got to grab him by the lapels and say, ‘Listen, this ends now.'

Biden aide, discussing Sen. Manchin

He’s going to blow up the president’s agenda so I think you have to play hardball but there are different ways to play hardball. [Manchin]’s making [The Democrats] look ineffective.

Steve Jarding, Democratic strategist

Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television.

We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act – and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.

Chuck Schumer, discussing BBB

How will the Democrats deal with Manchin?

Senate Democrats are signaling they plan to take more of a hardball approach to pressuring Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their climate and social spending agenda after months of kid-glove treatment failed to deliver his vote.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday said Manchin will have to repeatedly defend his opposition to these popular programs by voting on the floor and took a subtle shot at his colleague for trying to dictate national policy through an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend.

Why does Joe Manchin oppose the Build Back Better bill?

US NEWS

Why does Joe Manchin oppose the Build Back Better bill?

On Sunday, the White House released a heated and personal statement detailing their frustration that Senator Joe Manchin walked away from the negotiation table. Senator Manchin and President Biden had been discussing the President’s Build Back Better bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month. Progressives have tied the fates of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which focused on investments in traditional infrastructure, to the Build Back Better bill. 

Early last week, Sen. Manchin provided the White House with “a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities.” The Administration believed that this could represent a starting point for further discussions but instead, Manchin has made public comments that he will not be seeking to negotiate any further.

Read more.

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. 

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.

Stimulus checks in 2022: how long will the Federal Reserve keep paying them?

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Stimulus checks in 2022: how long will the Federal Reserve keep paying them?

The US economy has been running hotter than experts and officials had forecasted which has led to the Federal Reserve to decide it will gradually end the pandemic stimulus program put in place nearly two years ago.

That program kept interest rates low to promote more liquidity in the market and stimulate the economic recovery from the covid-19 crisis. The central bank has also been buying Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to inject large sums of cash into the US economy.

Read more.

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. 

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. 

Good morning and welcome to AS USA’s daily live blog for Tuesday 21 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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