Eligibility for Stimulus Payments Narrowed - Seven Million Families Affected

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ByGoran
March 16,2021

The House legislation passed Saturday narrowed the income eligibility for $1,400 stimulus checks. If the changes make it into the final bill, fewer Americans will see the stimulus payments. The newly-set thresholds would leave millions of families without this round of financial relief, the Penn Wharton Budget Model estimates.

The decision has come as a result of a compromise between president Joe Biden and moderate democrats, who suggested tightening the income eligibility for the third round of stimulus checks. Most of the Republican members of Congress are against Biden’s relief plan.

Even though they recognize the importance these payments have for the recovery of the US economy, they disagree on the eligibility requirements. Biden’s initial proposal was to set the cap at $100,000 for individuals, $150,000 for single parents, and $200,000 for couples.

Voicing Republicans’ and some moderate Democrats’ concerns, this new legislation is supposed to make the final bill lower while setting the income thresholds higher. 

The proposal suggests lowering income caps to $80,000 for individuals, $120,00 for single parents, and $160,000 for married couples. It is a modest 5% change, as stated by Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, with roughly 12 million adults still without the relief payments.

The economy is looking anemic, and the new stimulus package would be more than welcome. However, some seven million upper-middle-class families do not meet the new eligibility requirements and those that do will receive smaller sums, based on the quicker phase-out rate.

Those who criticize the proposed legislation suggested that cutting down the $1.9 trillion relief package could have been done differently, by reducing the volume of local and state aid. 

Some are skeptical, saying that the Democrats’ proposal was far from a relief effort and that the citizens’ cry for help in these unprecedented times should be addressed more vigorously.

Among them, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Wednesday that working people need “more generous relief checks, $15 min wage, ending the filibuster to protect our democracy”. Some also argue that the phase-out rates are exceedingly steep, resulting in worse low-income households’ situations. 

The bill is about to move forward this week. Democrats would need the support of the whole caucus, given the fact that the party has only fifty votes in the Senate and uncertain GOP support.

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