President Biden recently released details of an ambitious and unprecedented $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, which includes a myriad of measures focused on supporting the struggling US economy as the country seeks to recover from the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan, also known as the American Rescue Plan, comes on the heels of the $900 billion relief program Congress already approved in December.
So, what could it mean for you?
The largest part of the plan includes $1 trillion in direct financial support to working families. This includes:
- Direct cash payments. The proposal would send out $1,400 per person ($2,800 for married couples) subject to certain income requirements. This is in addition to the $600 that came as part of the December relief package. Notably, eligibility has been expanded to include adult dependents and mixed-immigration status households.
- Extend paid leave through September 2021. President Biden would renew paid leave provisions, which were not extended as part of the December package. The plan would allow for 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave for caregivers dealing with closed schools or care centers, and would be expanded to include federal workers. This initiative is likely to assist an additional 106 million Americans. This effort will also provide for a maximum paid leave benefit of $1,400 per-week for eligible workers.
- Expand tax credits for childcare, such that families with children up to age 13 could receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. Families making less than $125,000 per year would receive the full credit, while those earning up to $400,000 would receive a partial credit. The plan would temporarily increase the size of tax credits for more families and make them “refundable” — meaning people would get cash even if they do not earn enough to owe income taxes. The proposals also seek to expand the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults.
- Extend and expand unemployment insurance. Under the current stimulus packages, the unemployed are eligible for an additional $300 in weekly federal unemployment benefits through March 14. Biden’s plan increases that amount to $400 through September and also continues extended benefits to people who have exhausted benefits or wouldn’t normally qualify, such as contractors or freelancers.
For working families struggling with the challenge of school closures, the plan provides for $130 billion to fund school reopening by paying for such things as reducing class sizes and modifying spaces so students and teachers can socially distance, improving ventilation, hiring more janitors and implement mitigation measures, and providing personal protective equipment.
Beyond these, the proposal includes many more measures such as funding a national vaccination program to help bring the virus under control, support small businesses, emergency funding for state and local government, food security and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Taken all together, it is an ambitious plan that is likely to change as it moves through the legislative process. Regardless of its final form, the plan take presents an important effort to support families that continue to struggle financially under there the weight of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.