Fourth stimulus check: $8,000, Child Tax Credit, Medicare, COLA 2022 benefits... | Summary 1 January


Fourth stimulus check live updates: $8,000, Child Tax Credit, Medicare, COLA 2022 benefits...

Stimulus checks, Child Tax Credit and benefits: latest news


- Expanded Child Tax Credit expired December 31 as Congress failed to reach agreement to renew it

- Five states offer unemployment benefits to workers who refuse private and public sector vaccine mandates

- Omicron obliges businesses to shut down voluntarily and no more stimulus is on the way

- Could Omicron spark need for a fourth stimulus check?

- Biden remains optimistic about BBB, despite Senator Joe Manchin's opposition

- Some families will receive $8,000 stimulus checks this spring

- Biden extends the student debt moratorium to May

Useful information & links

Child Tax Credit

- What next for the Child Tax Credit after Build Back Better bill talks stall?

- Why does Manchin oppose the Build Back Better bill?

Stimulus checks

- 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 there to go in 2021?

- When does COLA 2022 take effect for Social Security benefits?

- 5.9% COLA increase - how much difference will it make to Social Security benefits?

Latest articles:


$8,000 stimulus check: who gets it, how to apply and when will it be sent out?

The IRS sent out the last round of direct monthly payments in December, but could a further Child Tax Credit payment be coming your way in 2022?

Full details

Stimulus Checks

How much were the first, second and third stimulus checks and when were they sent out?

Since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, eligible Americans have been able to claim three federal stimulus checks worth a total of $3,200, plus additional credits for households with qualifying dependents.

AS USA takes a look back at each of the trio of stimulus checks

$2,000 monthly payment petition adds 1M signatures in 2021

A petition for $2,000 monthly stimulus checks failed to reach its goal in 2021, but it added about 1.25 million signatures in the second year of the pandemic.

Stephanie Bonin, a Denver restaurant owner, started the petition in March 2020 which called for $2,000 monthly payments for adults and $1,000 monthly payments for children. She argued that recurring payments would help Americans until they could get back on their feet and save communities from financial ruin.

Trump-appointed McWilliams resigns as U.S. FDIC chair after power struggle

The Republican chair of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said on Friday she will step down from her role effective Feb. 4, 2022, removing a key remaining obstacle to President Joe Biden's ambitious banking reform agenda. Jelena McWilliams, a holdover from the Trump administration who was appointed to the role in June 2018, had previously said she intended to serve out her full term, which was set to expire in mid-2023.


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.

It’s been nine months since Congress passed the last round of stimulus checks. Despite calls for more direct cash injections into American households both in the halls of Congress and from the public, for the time being, no more look set to be on the way.

Germany wants G7 finance ministers to focus on recovery, climate protection

Germany wants to use its presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) to support the economic recovery from the covid-19 pandemic and strengthen efforts to improve climate protection, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Saturday.

"Germany has taken over the G7 presidency for 2022 - the G7 countries stand for freedom, democracy and progress," Lindner said in a tweet. "With this in mind, we must overcome the pandemic and drive the global economic recovery," he added.

Lindner, party leader of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), junior partner in Chancellor Olaf Scholz's three-way ruling coalition, said he wanted to put questions of digitization and climate neutrality on top of the agenda of finance ministers and central bank governors during their G7 meetings.


Biden "more optimistic than ever

U.S. President Joe Biden today assured that the United States "is not giving up" while being "more optimistic than ever" about the country's future in the run-up to 2022.

In a recorded New Year's message, Biden highlighted the resilience of the United States, the country hardest hit in the world by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 800,000 deaths.

"No matter how tough the challenge, no matter how high the hurdles, we always move forward. The virus has been tough, but we have been even tougher," said Biden, who was accompanied by his wife, Jill Biden.

"We have learned again what we have always known: America does not give up," he remarked.

He also noted that looking ahead to 2022 he is "more optimistic than ever" about "America's future."


US third-quarter economic growth revised slightly higher

U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the third quarter amid a flare-up in covid-19 infections, the government confirmed on Wednesday, but activity has since picked up, putting the economy on track to record its best performance this year since 1984.

Gross domestic product increased at a 2.3% annualized rate, the Commerce Department said in its third reading of GDP growth for the July-September quarter. That was up from the 2.1% pace estimated last month but was still the slowest since the second quarter of 2020, when the economy suffered a historic contraction in the wake of tough mandatory measures to contain the first wave of coronavirus cases.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast third-quarter GDP growth unrevised at a 2.1% pace. The economy grew at a 6.7% rate in the second quarter.

Jerome Powell’s stark warning

In early December Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell voiced concern over the possibility of covid-19 and the Omicron variant could harm the recovery: “The recent rise in covid-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation.” He also mentioned that a new wave could reduce the willingness of workers to reenter the labor force, “which would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply-chain disruptions.”

Wall St

Wall Street flat as it crosses finish line of tumultuous year

Wall Street was little changed in light trading on Friday, with investors taking a breather as they prepared to ring in the new year and close the books on 2021, marking the second year of recovery from a global pandemic.

All three major U.S. stock indexes are set for weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual gains, notching their biggest three-year advance since 1999.

The S&P 500 is on course for a 27% increase since the last trading day of 2020. Through Thursday, the benchmark index registered 70 record-high closes, or the second-most ever. Using Refinitiv data back to 1928, the most SPX record-high closes in a single year was 77 in 1995.

Companies, consumers and the broader economy largely thrived in 2021 as they felt their way forward amid a constantly shifting landscape including a tumultuous transfer of power marked by the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Other factors included the "meme stock" phenomenon, new covid-19 variants, a labor shortage, generous fiscal/monetary stimulus, hobbled supply chains, booming demand and the resulting price spikes.

“The other three big central banks - the Fed, BOJ and ECB - are all very aggressive, and there's no question that money is finding its way in securities markets,” said Steve Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Securities. “So I think that was clearly the most important thing that took place in terms of creating the rally in 2021.”


US jobless claims drop, showing no Omicron hit yet

New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell in the week leading up to Christmas and benefits rolls slid to their lowest level of the coronavirus pandemic era the week earlier, the Labor Department said, data that showed no impact yet on employment from the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 198,000 for the week ended Dec. 25 from a revised 206,000 a week earlier. Early this month, claims dropped to a level last seen in 1969.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 208,000 applications for the latest week. Claims have declined from a record high of 6.149 million in early April of 2020.

The data were the latest to show that Omicron - the newest and most contagious covid-19 variant so far - has yet to trip up a tight job market or slow a U.S. economy that appears solidly on track to end the year at a gangbusters growth rate.


Biden, Manchin discussed social spending bill after US senator's rejection - adviser

US President Joe Biden and Senator Joe Manchin spoke about the "Build Back Better" bill a day after the conservative Democratic senator publicly rejected the president's social spending plans, a White House adviser said on Friday. "He (Biden) has some confidence about that (bill), including discussions he has had with Senator Manchin," Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House council of economic advisers, said in an interview with CNN on Friday.

IRS warn against online impersonators

The Internal Revenue Service warn customers against unscrupulous online scammers who try and con users into giving over sensitive personal information.

Little defense for defense budget

Much has been made of the ease with which lawmakers can agree on a whopping US defense budget, while the Build Back Better bill languishes on the floor of Congress.


2022 stimulus checks: can Social Security recipients get paid $1,400?

Inflation is hurting some communities hard as the pandemic evolves and despite more than 169 million payments having been sent out in the third round of stimulus checks, there is a continued push for a targeted fourth one. The new covid-19 variant of Omicron had financial markets very worried at first, with a rapid transmission rate, but early studies have calmed them a little as illness, on the whole, appears to be less severe.

The Omicron variant is spreading fast around the US northeast with New York setting 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.

Independent strategic communications think tank Climate Power is leading calls for the Senate to be pushed on approving the Build Back Better bill.

A quick guide to Build Back Better

What exactly is the breakdown of the Build Back Better bill? This handy graphic explains where the bulk of the proposed investment is destined.

The benefits of Child Tax Credit expansion

According to the Working Families Party, an extension of the Child Tax Credit, which expired on December 31, would benefit 90% of children in America.

Biden pushed to enact BBB

Seattle-based Rep. Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post calling on Biden to enact portions of his Build Back Better plan via executive order. 

"We are calling on the president to use executive action to immediately improve people’s lives," Jayapal wrote, adding she'd keep working to push the legislation in Congress. "Taking executive action will also make clear to those who hinder Build Back Better that the White House and Democrats will deliver for Americans."

More on what's being pushed by desperate Democrats from Haisten Willis.

Cost comparison of Child Tax Credit

Fiscal hawks in Congress are worried about the cost of the sweeping proposals in the Build Back Better bill.

Senator Joe Manchin has pushed to bring down the top line price of the legislation and fund fewer programs but for the full ten-year limit in order to get his crucial vote.

Democrats plan to pass the bill in the Senate without any support from GOP senators meaning they need all 50 votes that they can muster.

Were the expansion of the Child Tax Credit to be extended for the full ten years, it would cost roughly $1.5 trillion over that time period. A little less than double what the US will spend on defense in 2022.

Climate spending could surge if Build Back Better were passed

Around the world, many have seen the fatal and devastating impacts of climate change. Stimulus spending to mitigate the the emission of greenhouse gases and funds to adapt to climate change have not been allocated by Congress at the levels needed to confront the crisis. However, the Build Back Better bill would ramp up climate spending to help the country reach President Biden's target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The bill is opposed by the Republican party, with not a single member ready to support the trillion dollar package. With former-President Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, it remains unclear what interest the GOP has in tackling the issue of climate change.

Congress calls for Manchin clarity

Some members of Congress have argued that the White House should identify exactly what West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin would be willing to support and pass those aspects.

On the other hand progressive members point to the fact that many of the measures formed part of the Democratic party platform which got them elected in 2020.

They worry that if legislatiion is not enacted, it could hamper their electoral chances in the Mid-Terms.

Initial unemployment claims continue to fall

Unemployment claims continued to decline in the United States the week ending on 25 December. Across the nation, 198,000 initial unemployment claims were made "a decrease of
8,000 from the previous week."

Which states saw increases in initial claims?

1. Oklahoma (+947)

2. Michigan (+841),

3. Washington (+803)

4. Alabama (+732) 

5. Arkansas (+731).

Which states saw decreases in initial claims?

1. Missouri (-5,549)

2. Pennsylvania (-4,520)

3. Kentucky (-1,915)

4. Georgia (-1,699)

5. Illinois (-1,321).

The Internal Revenue Service has warned against online 'phishing' scams by unscrupulous individuals looking to secure personal details relating to obtain the monthly Child Tax Credit payments.


Biden, Manchin spoke about social spending bill

Joe Biden and Senator Joe Manchin spoke about the "Build Back Better" bill a day after the conservative Democratic senator publicly rejected the president's social spending plans, a White House adviser has claimed.

"He (Biden) has some confidence about that (bill), including discussions he has had with Senator Manchin," Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House council of economic advisers, said in an interview with CNN on Friday.

"The president and Senator Manchin - the day after that announcement where the senator said he couldn't vote for the bill as it was - they were talking again."

Manchin, a conservative Democratic senator, rejected the president's Build Back Better plan earlier this month in a move that imperils the legislation.


Manchin stance sees Goldman Sachs lower forecasts for US economic growth

Joe Manchin's stance on the 'Build Back Better' bill prompted investment bank Goldman Sachs to lower its forecasts for US economic growth. Manchin's rejection of the bill threatened to scuttle hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for measures to fight climate change and meet the Biden administration's climate goals.

Manchin has expressed concerns about a number of proposals in Biden's signature domestic policy bill, including multiple climate proposals and extending monthly child tax credit payments.

Biden told reporters after Manchin's rejection that he and the senator were "going to get something done" on the legislation.

Manchin's support is crucial in the Senate chamber where the Democrats have the slimmest margin of control and Republicans are united in their opposition to the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said the chamber would vote on a package in early 2022.

US Representative Pramila Jayapal, a leading liberal House Democrat, has asked Biden to continue focusing on the social spending legislation and urged him to use executive action despite Manchin's public rejection of the plan.

When will the COLA applied social security benefits be sent?

The first social security checks with the 2022 COLA of 5.9 percent were due to be distributed to a small percent of beneficiaries yesterday, on 31 December. Remaining beneficiaries will be sent their check at some point in January, on the date they typically recive their benefits.

1 in 3 small businesses say health care costs are "unsustainable"

With prices rising across the market, healthcare costs are no exception. With many small businesses responsible for providing healthcare to their workers, almost a third are saying the costs threaten the sustainability of their business.

How has the US unemployment rate changed in 2021?

In January 2021, the unemployment rate was recorded at 6.3 percent.

Feb: 6.2 (-0.1)

March: 6.0 (-0.2)

April: 6.1 (+0.1)

May: 5.8 (-0.3)

June: 5.9 (+0.1)

July: 5.4 (-0.5)

August: 5.2 (-0.2)

Sep: 4.8 (-0.4)

Oct: 4.6 (-0.2)

Nov: 4.2 (-0.4).

The largest decreases were seen in July, September, and November.

US stimulus checks live blog: welcome

Welcome to AS USA’s first daily live blog of the new year, on Saturday 01 January 2021. We’ll be bringing you the latest news on President Biden's Build Back Better bill, which has been dealt a major blow by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s announcement that he will not be voting for the legislation.

We’ll also provide information on the enhanced monthly Child Tax Credit, which expired on December 31. A major goal of the Build Back Better bill was to extend the scheme, which has seen qualifying households receive up to $300 per month per child.

You’ll also find updates on a potential fourth federal stimulus check in the United States, in addition to information on unemployment and Social Security benefits.