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USA finance and payments: news summary for 2 May

Update:
President Joe Biden raises his glass for a toast during the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

US finance news: live updates

Headlines: 2 May, 2022

- Inflationary pressures mean that civilian workers' average income declined 3.7% in real terms over the year ending March 2022

- Wall Street traders returned Monday after the worst day in over a year on Friday. All three indexes in the green, The Dow Jones (0.26%), NASDAQ (1.63%), and S&P 500 (0.57%)

- President Biden confirms intention to announce decision on student debt cancellationin the coming weeks

- Some states are offering higher SNAP benefit amounts as food prices increase

- Biden confirms that he will not be pushing for $50,000 of student debt forgiveness

- Where do the experts stand on renting vs buying in this new housing market

Helpful Information & links

- Looking for a status update on your tax refund? Use the IRS' Wheres My Refund? tool.

- Which states have the lowest prices for electricity?

- Medicare enrollment:what you need to know

- Chicago provides $150 gas cards: how to apply

-Maine providing full-time residents$850 relief checks to combat effects of inflation on household finances.

Related News

IRS has sent out over 88 million tax refunds for worth $267 billion

The 2022 tax season is wrapping up with the filing deadline, 18 April, in the rearview mirror. The IRS has sent out 88,667,000 tax refunds on 2021 returns worth just over $267 billion as of 22 April.

By that date the tax agency had received nearly 139 million tax declarations, some 30 million less than it had receive in 2021. Tax payers can still file a tax return, and are advised to do so as soon as possible if they owe Uncle Sam tax to avoid late penalties and fines in addition to accurring interest.

Second Amazon warehouse votes 'No' to unionizination

Weeks after Amazon employees at a New York JFK8 warehouse became the first to vote in favor of unionizing, as second facility across the street chose a different path. Turnout at the smaller LBJ5 warehouse was 61 percent and according to US National Labor Relations Board tally on Monday, 618 to 380 against joining the Amazon Labor Union.

The negative vote for unionizing comes as a setback for organizers but as even more of a relief for the online retail giant. "A second defeat could have proved fatal to the company’s efforts to stop the organizing from spreading like wildfire, just as it has done at Starbucks," said John Logan, a professor at San Francisco State University who studies anti-union actions.

What are the main types of financial assistance I can apply for in California?

WELFARE PROGRAMS

What are the main types of financial assistance I can apply for in California?

For those who fall on hard times, there exist a number of programs to help deal with the financial stress and ensure that that basic needs are met. The financial assistance available are state-specific programs as well as federally funded programs managed by the state or county governments which operate under California-specific names.

Qualifying Golden State residents can get help through tax benefits to low-income workers and programs which provide money to buy food, pay for housing, get access to medical care. 

Full details

Investing in children through Child Tax Credit will improve America's future

Former secretaries of the Treasury Robert Rubin, 1995 to 1999 and Jacob Lew, 2013 to 2017, argue that continuing one key feature of enhanced Child Tax Credit program for the 2021 fiscal year and expanding support for childcare would greatly benefit America. Although the proposals that are being presented may need to be parred back so that the package can also reduce the deficit, both help ease financial hardship on low-income families but also reduce inflationary pressures. 

They urge congress to act to make the Child Tax Credit permanently fully refundable so that the entire credit is available to the lowest income children saying it is “the most consequential way to reduce child poverty,” the former secretaries write. “For example, just making the current $2,000 credit refundable would reduce child poverty by roughly 20 percent.”

The benefits to families and society would far outweigh the comparatively low cost of doing this. Children that grow up in poverty tend to grow up less healthy, have lower academic achievement and earn less as grown ups. “In an increasingly competitive global economy, we need all of our children to reach their full potential so they are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Calls for Biden to raise wages and lower costs through Executive Actions

It is becoming increasingly clear to Democrats that they may not be able to get the rest of President Biden's agenda across the finish line before the midterms in September. Negotiations with Senator Joe Manchin to pass a raft of legislation to invest in families and combat climate change have restarted.

But the West Virginian senator is holding back his key vote for Democrats to go it alone, insisting that the spending proposals be bipartisan. With the need to show voters they can get something done to improve their lot and lower rising costs or face a shellacking in November at the polls their are calls from Democratic lawmakers for the President to use Excecutive Action.

Of their "comprehensive list" that has been presented to the White House, "top of that list, I would say, is cancelling student debt," Representative Pramila Jayapal told Jonathan Capehart on the Sunday Show. Another major priority would be to raise the overtime threshold to $83,000 according to the leader of the House Progressive Caucus.

How do I get an EBT card in California?

US NEWS

How do I get an EBT card in California?

In California, Electornic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards are known as the Golden State Advantage (GSA) card. This is the way for Californians to access things like food stamps and other programmes that are distributed by the state. The cards are in place so the benefits are not spent on items like alcohol or cigarettes.

Getting a card is quite easy, you need to call 1-877-847-3663, find your local county office, or apply online through GetCalFresh.org.

Read more

What conditions are considered a disability for Social Security?

US NEWS

What conditions are considered a disability for Social Security?

Social Security payments don’t just cover seniors, they cover the disabled as well. Both the Supplementary Security Income (SSI) and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments can be attained by having a disability, but both have different requirements.

Read more

Inflation looking to be the Democrat killer

Inflation is now the top worry among Hispanic voters, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll released in March. A Quinnipiac University poll published on April 13 found that just 26% of Hispanic voters approved of Biden's job performance, the lowest mark of any demographic.

"President Biden knows how higher prices can impact a family budget," the White Hosue spokesperson said. "This is why he is fighting every day to bring down gas prices and lowering kitchen table costs that are squeezing Latino families across the country."

 

What will happen with student debt?

The Biden administration is considering what action to take to address the student debt crisis facing millions of Americans. President Biden promised to look at some form of student loan forgiveness while running for office, but is yet to pass any major legislation tackling the burden for borrowers.

Earlier in April the White House extended the pause on federal student loan repayments through 31 August. The administration will make a decision on exactly what relief to offer before that date.

Which states have the highest and the lowest gas tax rates?

FINANCIAL NEWS

Which states have the highest and the lowest gas tax rates?

After two years of the pandemic, and the related economic consequences, there is another major financial worry that is reducing the buying power of millions of households. 

Gasoline prices remain at historically high levels and there is now greater focus being placed on the state-defined gas taxes. States, like the federal government, can levy taxes on motor fuel like gasoline and diesel. We take a look at the states with the highest and lowest rates of gasoline tax...

Read more

Pelosi promises action on gas company profiteering

Initially the sharp rise in the price of gasoline was put down to the high rate of inflation in the United States and a shortage of crude oil due to the sanctions placed on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. However efforts made by the Biden administration to address those two issue have not been as successful as the President would have hoped, suggesting that another factor may be at play. 

Many lawmakers have pointed the finger at profiteering gas companies in the US who are allegedly using the unique economic conditions to justify higher prices. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised swift action on the offending companies to help bring the costs down. 

Why are gas prices still so high?

Earlier this year the price of gasoline rose significantly across the country, due to a combination of the economic sanctions against Russia and the prolonged spell of high inflation. However, despite Biden's decision to release millions of gallons from the US' strategic supply and a fall in the price of crude oil globally, the cost of gasoline for consumers has barely dipped. 

This is at least in part due to some pretty blatant profiteering on the part of major oil companies in the US. Some states and local governments have considered implemented financial relief for consumers, but there is understandable concern that the support money will simply end up in the pockets of big business. 

What is the EBT card and who can apply for it?

US NEWS

What is the EBT card and who can apply for it?

SNAP benefits are monitored to ensure that the money is used for the intended expenses and the Food and Nutrition Service from the Department of Agriculture uses an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system to do so.

EBT is used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam, and is accepted in approved retail stores.

Read more

This is the make-or-break period. I think we need to have a come-to-Jesus moment. The backroom approach [with Manchin] has not worked.

Democrat source, speaking to The Hill

Anything we can do along the lines we did on the infrastructure bill would be great if we could. We’re determined to do something on a path to reliable energy so we have reliable energy for our country. I want to work in a bipartisan way.

Joe Manchin, Democrat senator

It seems highly improbable that anything that involved Republicans will also be serious on climate, at this stage.

Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat senator

Will the reconciliation bill ever get passed?

Sen. Joe Manchin’s  moves are fueling new doubts that he could agree to any  legislative package on President Biden’s agenda. With midterm elections coming up, with little to nothing passed, something will need to be completed to give a boost to the Democrat election hopes.

The reconciliation bill, which was known as Build Back Better, was first touted to be in the region of $7 trillion before being negotiated down by Sen. Manchin before it was binned. Without Manchin's vote, the Dems can't get anything passed in Congress.

Social Security awareness

Social Security provides payments for over 63 million beneficiaries and currently around one in five Americans receive a Social Security benefit of some kind. The far-reaching programme has been hailed as the most successful anti-poverty implement in US history, but there is still some confusion about it is structured.

Two of the most common programmes from the Social Security Administration (SSA) are the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Are Social Security disability payments for lifetime?

US NEWS

Are Social Security disability payments for lifetime?

Before applying for disability benefits, you have to prove to the SSA that your disability fits their criteria of one that prevents you from working. Furthermore, the claimant must also have been disabled for at least five full months. The only exception is for claimants with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) whose benefits can start immediately.

While there are hurdles to pass in beginning the benefits regime, as long as your disability persists you are not going to be removed as a recipient.

Read more

Welcome to AS USA!

Hello, good morning, and weclome to AS USA. We'll be bringing you all the latest financial news, with updates on the prospect of student loan forgiveness after President Biden confirmed that he will be announcing his plans soon. 

Inflationary pressures continue to hit consumer in the pocket, while gasoline prices remain high across the country. 

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