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Government to Give Americans Up to $1,200 Each Under Massive Coronavirus Relief Plan

Doug Whiteman
Government to Give Americans Up to $1,200 Each Under Massive Coronavirus Relief Plan

Most Americans would receive cash payments of as much as $1,200, unemployment benefits would be boosted and even paid out to freelancers and gig workers, and struggling small businesses would receive emergency money — all as part of a humongous package to ease some of the economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is a wartime level of investment into our nation," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said early Wednesday as he announced that senators had reached a deal with the White House on a whopping $2 trillion relief plan.

The legislation is so massive that it costs more than the entire federal budget for one year, according to The New York Times.

Money in Americans' pockets

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Each taxpayer will receive up to $1,200.

The bill — which still needs to pass both houses of Congress, then be signed by President Donald Trump — will give cash directly to taxpayers, to help them pay their mortgages, rent and other bills, and to get some spending going to bolster the economy.

Individuals with incomes up to $75,000 will receive $1,200 each. Payments phase out at higher incomes, with no money going to those who earn $99,000 or more.

Married couples who file jointly and make $150,000 or less will get $2,400. Those payments also phase out; couples who earn $198,000 or higher will receive no money.

Households with kids get an additional $500 for each child.

Unemployment benefits 'on steroids'

The relief package also beefs up unemployment benefits, to provide anyone who's been thrust of work an additional $600 a week for four months in addition to the usual unemployment compensation that comes from the states.

You'll be eligible even if you're self-employed, work part time, are a freelancer, or do gig work, like driving for Uber Eats.

Standard jobless benefits will be extended by 13 weeks.

New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, says the bill puts "unemployment insurance on steroids."

More than 37 million jobs may be at risk in the short term because of the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, according to the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index.

Loans for small businesses

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Small businesses can get relief if they continue to pay their workers.

The deal offers up to $350 billion in loans for small businesses that continue to pay their workers during the crisis.

If smaller employers avoid layoffs and maintain their payrolls, they won't have to pay the loans back.

The legislation also sets up a $500 billion fund to help larger companies and whole industries — like the airlines — that have been battered badly as consumers have hunkered down at home.

The relief measure "will inject trillions of dollars in cash into the economy as fast as possible to help American workers, families, small businesses and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar," said McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

Only the government's latest move — and not the last

The new bill marks Washington's third attempt to use federal spending to combat COVID-19 as it eats away at the U.S. economy.

In early March, the government agreed to devote $8.3 billion toward prevention efforts and the development of a vaccine against the virus.

Later, a $100 billion package was signed into law, with provisions calling for paid sick leave for workers and free coronavirus testing.

Economists say the $2 trillion mega-measure now before Congress is a good step, but they say the economy is likely to need much more help.

"I know we aren't done yet," said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton, on Twitter.