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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Generous Payments From States In Last Quarter Of 2022: California Stimulus Check Keep Rolling Into November

The focus of the Stimulus Check payments has turned from the federal government to states in 2022.

The political gridlock in Washington forced President Biden to backtrack on his much-vaunted fourth stimulus check. his pledge to help the working-class Americans had to be canceled as Republicans refused to concede to further support for the low and moderate-income groups even as they backed tax holidays for billionaires.

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Now more than ever people need the stimulus check as rising prices across all products and services have made survival tougher than in the post-pandemic period in 2020 and 2021. Successive federal support measures had kept households provided through the tough phase in the peak months of the pandemic and later during the severe financial downturn that almost brought the economy to a halt.

President Biden came in with an outspoken commitment to a $2,000 stimulus check. it proved to be the deciding argument as the Democrats won both of Georgia’s congressional runoff elections and united the House and the White House under Democratic control. He was helped along by the Trump administration’s staggering incompetence and outright disregard for science.

The federal stimulus checks had overwhelming support among Americans with almost 80% approving the measures taken to support millions who had been affected by the economic downturn. And that included a majority of Republican voters.

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But that support did not find resonance among the Republicans and they made sure that the third stimulus check, the Economic Impact Payment, was the last of the federal stimulus check, at least in 2021 and 2022.

The Scope Of The American Rescue Plan Act

Though it was not the first round of the pandemic stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 proved to be the game changer in the fight against the pandemic, the massive effort to provide support to millions of low and moderate-income Americans, and the subsequent struggle to rescue the nation from a deep recession.

With $1.9 trillion being pumped in as a rescue package designed to facilitate the recovery of the American economy from the devastation in the sector of health and the economy following the pandemic.

This price tag makes this economic rescue legislation the most expensive in US history. It was the mainstay of President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan which also included the American Jobs Plan and the America Families Plan.   

The third stimulus check or the Economic Impact Payment, worth up to $1,400 was part of this financial package and also included a moratorium on continuing foreclosure and eviction, extending unemployment compensation, and also increasing the Child Tax Credit even while making it fully refundable.

The ARPA provided huge funds for local and state governments to help compensate for the loss in tax revenues, and money for the educational sector from kindergarten through 8th grade to reopen safely even as the pandemic continued to rage. It also provided funds for subsidized testing for COVID-19 and vaccination programs to cover the whole population.

The ARPA was part of the President’s Build Back Better Plan, a legislative plan that included the Family Plan and the Jobs Plan. But both the jobs plan and the family plan could not pass through Congress in the face of stiff Republican opposition and also opposition within the Democratic party. But parts of each of the plans made their way into the Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022.

The main aim of the ARPA is to facilitate the recovery of the devastated US economy and the health effects of the pandemic. and it did succeed in its role to a great extent. Parts of the Build Back Better Plan of which the ARPA was a part were not passed. But parts of it were included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed in August 2022 the Rescue plan comes in the wake of the $2 trillion CARES Act passed in 2020 by the Trump administration followed by the $900 billion stimulus check that was passed in December of the same year but only reached beneficiaries in 2021. 

It gave $600 to every eligible American. The third stimulus check came soon after extended several aspects of those bills while creating new recovery strategies.

The plan provides up to $1,400 in stimulus payments, with the full amount going to people who made $75,000 or less as reflected in their Adjusted Gross Income. For couples, the income limit was $150,000 and they received $1,400 for each filer. The payments with an AGI of more than $75,000 gradually decreased and disappeared entirely for those whose AGI reached $80,000, and $160,000 for couples.

The unemployment benefits were also extended under the Rescue Plan act with the pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits of $300 a week extended through September 6, 2021. The total number of weeks that the payments were available was also extended from 50 to 79. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit was also extended and assisted by $300.

The initial $10,200 of the 2020 benefits were also declared tax-free for families earning $150,000 or less. Beneficiaries whose amount was withheld because they had taxes due were allowed to recover them by filing their 2020 income tax or through an amended income tax return if they have already filed their returns for 2020.

Health Plans Extended For Unemployed And Moratorium On Foreclose And Current Eviction

COBRA health insurance premiums were also made 100% subsidized through the ARPA. Thus even unemployed workers were allowed to remain covered by their previous employer’s healthcare plan till September 2021.

The moratorium on foreclosure and eviction which was to have ended on March 31, 2021, was not extended. Instead, extra funding was provided that brought relief to those who were behind on rent, utility bills, and mortgages.

This part of the legislation provided $21.55 billion in emergency rental assistance through September 2027. Another $5 billion was allocated for housing Stimulus Checks through September 2031. $100 million was for the improvement of tribal housing and another $100 million for rural housing through September 2022.

There were a host of other Stimulus Check measures including Student Loan Forgiveness and Increased Food Aid. While the earlier measure included a provision that any student loan forgiveness passed between December 2020 and January 1, 2026, will be tax-free, the legislation extends the 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits through September 2021.

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