The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to approve the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill championed by President Joe Biden. The bill passed 50 – 49. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan did not vote because he returned home to Alaska for a family emergency. If Sullivan were able to vote, it would have resulted in a 50 – 50 tie. This would have required Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking vote.
The bill must first return to the House for one more vote. Changes were made to the bill since the bill passed in the House. Many of the changes were major. For example, the part about raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. That is no longer in the bill.
I was curious what is in the Senate-approved bill. The following is what I was able to dig up.
$1,400 stimulus check for “eligible” individuals
Individuals who made more than $75,000 in 2019 would get less than the $1,400 stimulus payment phasing out entirely if they made more than $80,000. This seems incredibly stupid to me. President Biden promised $2,000 checks to everyone, even thousandaires.
Just because someone made $80,000 in 2019 doesn’t mean they made that much in 2020 or now. If the Biden Administration is worried about thousandaires getting overstimulated with free government money, excess stimulus payments can be taken back in 2021 taxes. I’m sure this was all covered in president school.
$160 billion for COVID-19 vaccine and testing programs
Even though the federal government pays for the vaccines, my 75-year-old mother-in-law had to bring her Medicare card to get vaccinated. When I had to get repeatedly tested before getting a medical procedure, I had to submit my health insurance information. It was all for naught. The University of Maryland Medical, where the procedure was to occur, requires a negative test three (3) days before any procedure. At the time, COVID-19 test results took four (4) days for the results.
$360 billion in aid for state, local and territorial governments
This amount probably should have been even higher. States are making less money from taxes because of the lingering pandemic and the federal government’s mishandling of the crisis. States are guilty too, some states more so than others, but the federal government ultimately botched the handling of the pandemic.
An extension of supplemental unemployment benefits
This is of great personal interest to me since I’m collecting unemployment because of the pandemic. Federal $300 a week benefits are scheduled to expire on March 14. The bill will extend benefits until September 6. That seems too long, considering we now have three different COVID-19 vaccines going into people’s arms. Considering though how long it’s taking Maryland to mismanage the vaccine rollout, it might be needed.
Relating to unemployment benefits, the bill also makes the first $10,200 in benefits tax-free. Maryland already passed similar legislation.
Free COBRA health insurance for laid-off workers
Because this is the greatest country globally, when you lose your job, you lose your health insurance. The bill will cover 100% of COBRA health insurance coverage through September.
This is huge. I remember I was offered COBRA coverage when I got out of the Air Force. From the price quoted to me, I thought it was some sick joke. It would have been cheaper to personally hire a full-time doctor to follow me around everywhere to attend to any sickness or injuries that pop up.
$170 billion to help schools open
The CDC says if all the proper safety procedures are taken, schools can reopen safely. Sure. The problem is, who’s going to ensure all the proper safety procedures are taken? The teachers? They already have a job to do. The federal government should pay to have a pandemic safety monitor in every classroom to ensure all the proper procedures are always being taken. They would answer only to FEMA or some other federal agency, not the school.
They would make sure children are properly wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Take it from me. There’s a lot of unemployed people who could serve as monitors. Allow them to jump the line and get fully vaccinated. They could still collect unemployment. It seems like a win-win to me.
Expand tax credits for low and middle-income families
This, like the $10,200 tax benefit for those collecting unemployment, will help when filing taxes. I’ve already done our 2020 taxes using TurboTax. I haven’t filled because I’m waiting for TurboTax to update their software to reflect the change Maryland made in not taxing unemployment benefits. They say they’re waiting for Maryland to implement the changes in the state’s software. This makes sense. Maryland is still withholding state taxes from the weekly payment. Taxes need to be filed no later than April 15. It would be nice if all these changes were made before then. I don’t want to file and then file an amended tax return.
$45 billion for rental assistance
This is really landlord assistance because that is who will be getting the money. Left-leaning politicians don’t want to say they are helping out landlords because most people who’ve ever dealt with landlords don’t care for them very much. I know I don’t.
$23 billion for airlines and airports
Remember the industry most responsible for spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic? They’re getting a government handout too. I hate the airline industry more than I hate landlords. My preferred method of air travel is in the back of an Air Force transport plane. One of the most enjoyable flights I ever had was traveling from Yokota Air Base in Japan to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. Once the C-141 cargo plane was airborne, I crawled under a jet engine getting sent to Hawaii, stretched out, and went to sleep. I slept most of the flight.
I’ve literally flown all over the world this way. I would pay money for the privilege of flying via military transport today. I hate the airline industry more than I hate Jimmy Buffett music.
$48.5 billion for “small” business
It wouldn’t be a true stimulus bill unless it included free money to failed capitalists. The people who pay their employees less than a liveable wage so that they can enjoy higher profits. More than half of this money will be going to restaurants. The same small businesses that pay waitstaff less than the federal minimum wage and hire workers who are in the country illegally. Even though it’s usually healthier to eat at home, we can’t live in a world with fewer restaurants. I imagine making a blooming onion at home is quite hard.
There’s probably more to this $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that I haven’t included, but I think I hit on the major points. Your research may (or may not) differ.