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Saturday, August 15, 2020

HEALS vs. CARES vs. Heroes acts: What’s the difference between the stimulus packages?

Here’s what each stimulus package has to offer.

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Angela Lang/CNET

A new stimulus package should offer Americans some financial respite from the ongoing recession and coronavirus pandemic. It’s expected to include a second stimulus payment of up to $1,200 per person (just like the earlier CARES Act granted in March) as well as benefits like a renewal of enhanced unemployment and a paycheck protection program to help keep people working. Though this all sounds like it could be fairly straightforward, that’s where the clarity stops and confusion begins.

Negotiations are underway on the front-runner stimulus package proposal, the GOP’s HEALS Act, but Democrats are hotly contesting its reduction to unemployment aid and other measures. You first have to understand the CARES Act, which the HEALS Act is based upon, to know what the HEALS Act offers, what it doesn’t include, and who may be eligible for a second stimulus check.

Understanding the Heroes Act is also important. That’s the proposal the Democratic-led House of Representatives presented in May that the Senate has declined to take up. The Heroes Act proposes triple the amount of money that the HEALS Act does and calls for far broader provisions, including direct payments to more people and more money for unemployment benefits.

To shed some light on the sticking points in the current negotiations and where the final package might end up, let’s look at the three acts together. Here’s how the CARES, HEALS and Heroes acts compare.

CARES vs. Heroes vs. HEALS Acts: What’s the difference?

CARES (from March) Heroes (Democratic) HEALS (Republican)
Total cost of stimulus package $2.2 trillion $3 trillion $1 trillion
Stimulus check maximum payment amount $1,200 to single filers earning under $75k per year, $2,400 for joint filers under $125k. Reduced $5 per $100 of income above limits. Same as CARES. Same as CARES.
How much stimulus money you get for dependents $500 for dependents, 16 and under. College students, 24 and under, are not eligible. $1,200 for dependents, maximum of three. $500 for dependents, no age limit.
Enhanced unemployment benefit $600 per week in addition to state benefits. Same as CARES. Initially $200 per week. Then up to $500 per week to match 70% of lost wages when added to state benefits.
How long enhanced unemployment lasts Expires July 31. January 2021 for most workers, through March 2021 for gig workers, independent contractors, part-time workers and self-employed. $200 per week bonus through September. Then 70% matching of lost wages. Extends expiration of federal benefits until Dec. 31.
Paycheck Protection Program Allocated $659 billion total in forgivable loans for small businesses, who must use 75% on payroll to be eligible for forgiveness. $130 billion remains, but expires Aug. 8. Expands eligibility, eliminates 75% payroll requirement and extends application period to Dec. 31. Injects another $190 billion into the PPP fund, expands eligibility and allows businesses to request a second loan. Eliminates 75% payroll requirement and expands approved uses of funds for loan forgiveness.
Employee tax credit Tax credit on 50% of up to $10,000 in wages. Increases tax credit to 80% of up to $15,000 in wages. Increases tax credit to 65% of up to $30,000.
Bonus for employees who start new jobs or are rehired Does not address. Does not address. There could be a return-to-work bonus of up to $450 per week for unemployed workers who secure a new job or are rehired.
Eviction protections and moratorium Bans late fees until July 25 and evictions until Aug. 24 on properties backed by federal mortgage programs (Fannie Mae, etc.) or that receive federal funds (HUD, etc.) Expands to cover nearly all rental properties in the US, extends eviction moratorium an additional 12 months, allocates $200 billion for housing programs and another $100 billion for rental assistance. Does not address.
School reopening Does not address. $58 billion for grades K-12, $42 billion for higher education. $70 billion to K-12 that open for in-person classes, $29 billion for higher education, $1 billion to Bureau of Indian Education, $5 billion state discretion.
Liability protection from coronavirus illness Does not address. Does not address. 5 year liability shield to prevent schools, businesses, hospitals, from being sued over coronavirus-related issues.
Coronavirus testing Does not address. Does not address. $16 billion.

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