House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal

House Democrats are moving forward with the coronavirus relief bill, with the same eligibility rules for direct payments as were used in the two previous rounds of stimulus payments. Conservative Democrats had floated the idea of reducing the top income threshold for the full $1,400 payment from $75,000 per individual to $50,000 (or for a couple filing jointly, from $150,000 to $100,000), but that idea was rejected in the House. Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) said in a statement, "Our nation is struggling, the virus is still not contained, and the American people are counting on Congress to meet this moment with bold, immediate action."

And that seems to be the end of any talk of reducing eligibility for the full amount, at least for this round of stimulus payments, at least unless Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) decides to be a dick about it when the legislation goes to the Senate.


Manchin, for his part, didn't dismiss out of hand the proposal to keep the same eligibility standards that people have come to expect from the first two rounds of payments, possibly because he's noticed how well the direct payments are polling, not that he'd say that. Instead he continued to say he merely wanted to ensure payments go to folks who are "truly in need," adding, that if House Dems "can show that $75,000 and $150,000 is truly in need," he could be persuaded. Oh boy, have we got an American Prospect article he should read!

Now that there's a draft, the House Ways and Means Committee will work on the bill from Wednesday through Friday, then send it along to other committees tasked with building out the full MONEY FOR 'MERICA PLEASE package, which will also include money for state and local governments, safe school reopening, and coronavirus vaccinations and testing. Neal said he hoped Republicans "will join us in doing right by the American people," but that if they don't wanna, "the urgency of the moment demands that we act without further delay."

In addition to the one-time individual payments, the bill would extend emergency, unemployment benefits and expand the child tax credit. As Politico notes, that tax credit would amount to $3,600 a year (for kids under the age of six), and would "allow recipients to claim a portion of the break each month in the form of a check from the government." Holy just-this-side-of-universal basic income, Batman! The tax credit would only be a one-time boost in the stimulus bill, but many Dems want to make it permanent. Republicans may object by arguing that reducing childhood poverty would be morally irresponsible.

Neal's draft also includes an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, phased in over several years, which may or may not be able to meet the Senate's weird rules for passage through the budget reconciliation process, depending on whether Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) can get the Senate parliamentarian in a headlock and explain that the budget impact of getting more Americans paying taxes and not on federal assistance would result in savings of $65 billion a year.

We're just glad to see the bill going forward with the same eligibility rules for individual payments as before. And so are progressive Dems. Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said Monday that "people who got the first two checks are going to expect a third check," and that getting a payment to everyone who qualified for the first two rounds would fulfill Democrats' campaign promises, particularly in the Georgia runoff elections that gave Democrats control of the Senate.

Sen. Bernie Sanders put the political argument for Democrats even more succinctly, tweeting Saturday,

So there's a primary attack ad dodged. Nobody wants "voted to give Americans less money than Trump" used against them in 2022, for good reason.

Now, let's get the rest of this thing written and passed, yes?

[Politico / American Prospect / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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