Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and incoming White House Chief of Staff Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) head to a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY). Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
COVID-19

What the $2 trillion economic stimulus package will mean for you

Janet Nguyen Mar 27, 2020
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and incoming White House Chief of Staff Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) head to a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY). Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This post was updated on March 27 at 6:20 p.m. Eastern time.

President Donald Trump has signed into law a $2 trillion economic stimulus package — the largest economic rescue measure in history — to help businesses and employees affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Since the novel coronavirus began spreading across the U.S., businesses across the country have shuttered and laid off workers. For the week of March 21, about 3.3 million had filed unemployment claims — the largest number on record.

Here’s the type of relief that the bill is expected to include:

1) Direct checks: $1,200 will go toward adults and $500 to children based on 2018 tax returns or — if they’ve already filed — 2019 returns.

However, there are stipulations. That $1,200 would go to individuals making up to $75,000, while $2,400 would go to couples who made up to $150,000.

Payments will be reduced for individuals and couples making more than that amount — until they hit a threshold. Financial assistance will not be granted to individuals making more than $99,000 and couples earning more than $198,000.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a CNN interview that President Donald Trump wants the checks to be sent out starting April 6. However, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served on President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors and is currently president of the American Action Forum, says it will take six weeks at minimum to get a plan like this set up and executed.

2) Expanded unemployment benefits: Workers in most states are currently eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits — that will now be extended to 39 weeks.

The bill will also give Americans an extra $600 a week, for four months, on top of the maximum unemployment benefits states already dole out.

Gig workers, furloughed employees, and freelancers will be eligible.

3) Small business aid: $377 billion, largely in the form of loans, will be set aside.

4) Corporate aid: The Treasury Department will have the authority to provide $500 billion in loans (or other forms of investment) to cities, states, and corporations, including airlines and major manufacturers like Boeing.

That amount had been a major point of contention among Democrats, who had called it a “slush fund” and argued that it would give Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin the ability to help industries without transparency.

However, a special oversight committee will now be implemented. According to the Project on Government Oversight, it will collect and publish quarterly reports from recipients of the stimulus funds, and have a special inspector general.

The bill also bans companies from stock buybacks for a year after their loans are paid back.

5) Health care assistance: $150 billion will go to hospitals and other medical facilities. Some of this amount will be dedicated to testing supplies; new construction to house patients; and emergency operation centers.


COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

Are people still waiting for unemployment payments?

Yes. There is no way to know exactly how many people have been waiting for months and are still not getting unemployment, because states do not have a good system in place for tracking that kind of data, according to Andrew Stettner of The Century Foundation. But by his own calculations, only about 60% of people who have applied for benefits are currently receiving them. That means there are millions still waiting. Read more here on what they are doing about it.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out Tuesday from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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