Local residents begin receiving their federal stimulus check
As the U.S. Government issues checks and direct deposits for Americans all over the country, some are wondering if the amount is enough? The amount for single people earning less than $75,000 adjusted gross income a year, is $1,200, and would phase out above earnings of $99,000 a year. Married couples are getting $2,400 as long as their combined adjusted gross income is less than $150,000, but those couples making more than $198,000 are ineligible. Additionally, the stimulus provides parents with $500 for each child.
While the stimulus payment helps many, for some it just isn’t enough. Cost of living for Louisiana is relatively low compared to the median cost of living for the country as a whole. In some cities, rent for a studio apartment can be over $1,000 per month, not including utilities. While rent in Louisiana is cheaper, insurance is among the highest in the nation. Meanwhile, millions of non-essential workers have been laid off across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Department of Labor, just in the last week alone, 5.2 million people filed unemployment claims. Twenty-two million people have filed unemployment claims in the last four weeks, and many are still waiting to receive unemployment benefits.
At the end of March, Congress passed the largest relief package in American history to the tune of $2 trillion, but it was not enough. The $349 billion limit has already been reached on the government’s paycheck protection loan program for small businesses. It is now up to Congress to approve another $250 billion for the program. Congress is not expected to convene again until May 4 at the earliest, but they are already debating more stimulus checks to be sent out to the public, with additional aid to small businesses. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell asked for $250 billion more to be added to the small business program, but Democrats blocked him because they wanted to add $100 billion to provide hospitals with personal protective equipment and testing kits, 15% increase to the SNAP program, and $150 billion for local and state governments, in addition to the $250 billion proposed by McConnell. However, McConnell blocked the Democrats counter offer, so everything will have to wait until Congress convenes.
Until Congress can come together to find the way to help the American people, citizens across the U.S. will continue to worry about having enough money to cover food and basic housing costs. Their $1,200 stimulus check just might just be a drop in the bucket; a drop they will have to sip slowly.