On Tuesday night a deal was reached between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate on a $2 trillion stimulus package that will hopefully shore up a U.S. economy hit hard by widespread business shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If passed, the package would be the largest such stimulus package ever. However, the majority of funds — more than 1.5 trillion — would go to major corporations and industries rather than individuals. $250 billion would be earmarked for individuals.
Full terms of the deal have not been made public, but the Los Angeles Times reported that most people would receive around $1,200 a month, with an additional $500 per child, both Democratic party priorities. The money will be distributed based on 2018 tax returns and capped beyond a certain point. For individuals, the amount would begin declining for people who made more than $75,000, while those who earned more than $99,000 would get nothing. For married couples who filed jointly, the allotted amounts would begin declining at $150,000, with no money for couples who made more than $198,000.
The bill does not take into account whether someone saw a decline in income or even lost their job during the 2019 tax year.
But the deal also includes other elements hotly prioritized by Democrats, including increases in unemployment benefits. People who have been furloughed rather than laid off, and contractors including freelancers and gig economy workers would become eligible (they currently are not). In addition, the federal government would kick in an additional $600 a week on top of benefits already paid out by local government for unemployment.
Legislators also say the bill would include stronger oversight for a proposed $500-billion fund managed by the Treasury department for loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, a major priority for Democrats. The previous bill, which Democrats rejected as a “slush fund,” would have essentially given the Treasury Department carte blanche to distribute money, and would not have required disclosure of where the money went for up to six months.
According to L.A. Times, the deal will also set aside about $130 billion to help hospitals deal with shortages of beds, masks and ventilators, plus an additional $150 billion given directly to state and local governments.