After a few weeks of aggressive debate in Congress, both parties came to an agreement on the largest stimulus package in American history. On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the $2 trillion package, but who gets the benefits from the bill?
First and most importantly, U.S. residents with income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) would get $1,200 ($2,400 for couples.) They are also eligible for $500 per dependent child. This provides essential relief to families hit the hardest by the economic recession the coronavirus has caused.
But the bill has been criticized because people who do not currently pay taxes, such as those with low income, may not be able to be reached. This is because you must file your taxes to receive the money.
There are benefits for those who have been laid off due to the coronavirus. Eligible workers get an extra $600 per week on top of what they get from their state. This ranges from $275 in Alabama to $713 in New Jersey. There are benefits dedicated to part-time and self-employed workers as well.
This aid is paired with $150 billion that will go to state and local governments. Because only essential businesses remain open, local governments are hemorrhaging because they do not have enough tax revenue. State governments need the money to fulfill the skyrocketing number of unemployment claims.
Many companies have asked to get bailed out such as cruise, oil and medical companies. This was due to huge hits in revenue that, for example, halved cruise company Carnival's revenue in the first quarter of 2020.
It is important to note that businesses would get tax credit for keeping inactive workers on their payrolls during the pandemic. They would receive half of what they spend on wages, up to $5,000 per worker. While it is a nice incentive, it has not stopped companies large and small from firing thousands of workers.
But it was only the hospital industry that received money. Over $100 billion will help hospitals handle the spike in patients they have had to admit. Hospitals can apply for money for a range of coronavirus-related expenses. But this money will put more doctors in hospitals to treat patients, something the entire population of the United States will benefit from.
The bill was also criticized for not dealing with the “homework gap.” The homework gap refers to the group of students who do not have computers and/or internet connections at their homes to continue their learning in an online format.
College students will, for the most part, not be receiving benefits because they are considered a dependent of their parents. This is especially tough for students who have been laid off from their on- or off-campus job, but still have to pay rent.
However, students with loans will receive some relief. Loans from the federal government will not accrue interest and automatic payments have been temporarily suspended. The bill includes a clause that says private loan services “shall not accrue interest” on student loans during the suspension period.
Overall, the American people should be grateful that Congress came to a compromise after weeks of fighting over the details of this bill. And while this bill certainly provides relief, it still leaves out vulnerable populations that will suffer during the coronavirus outbreak.