$1,400 checks, tax credits and suspended evictions – CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger explains some of the key proposed benefits in the latest stimulus package.
GAYLE KING: The House plans to vote this week on the Biden administration’s massive COVID relief package. Faces a really tough road in the Senate where Republicans say it is just too much money. Last April, the Treasury Department sent $1,200 checks to millions of Americans. In December, most of those taxpayers were sent another $600. This latest proposal calls for a payment of $1,400 more, along with other benefits. CBS News Business Analyst, that’s Jill Schlesinger, joins us to sort it all out for us. Jill, good to see you. Let’s start with the $1,400. Who gets it in this new plan?
JILL SCHLESINGER: If you have income up to $75,000 as an individual or $150,000 as a married couple, you’re going to probably get this $1,400 check. A couple of differences from the past two checks, that $12,00 and the $600, this $1,400 will also be eligible for older dependents. You’ve got a smaller amount for kids in the first couple of rounds and this is for older kids, those college kids. And they’re probably going to get that full $1,400.
The phase out means that you’re going to get less money if you make above those thresholds and you’re completely phased out if you make more than $100,000 as an individual. And that would be more than $150,000– I’m sorry, $200,000 as a couple. So these are numbers that are really good for families and I’m very excited about that dependent number–
GAYLE KING: Yeah.
JILL SCHLESINGER: –because it really helps many more families.
GAYLE KING: I’ll say. Older dependents you mean over the age of 18? Is that what you mean? Or over the age of 21?
JILL SCHLESINGER: Yes, exactly.
GAYLE KING: Over 18? OK.
JILL SCHLESINGER: All dependents. So even if they’re in their 20s and they’re your dependents. So if you’re in college, you’re still going to get that $1,400 check. That’s big.
GAYLE KING: Let’s talk about unemployment numbers. 10 million Americans still out of work. Are there any plans laid out in this plan for unemployment benefits here?
JILL SCHLESINGER: Absolutely. Remember the plan that was passed in December gave people who are out of work an extra $300 of federal benefits. That number is set to go up to $400 per week on top of your state unemployment. And remember, by the way, gang, don’t forget this, is taxable income to you. Stimulus checks are not. These are taxable dollars. But what’s really interesting is that other stimulus is running out in March. March 11th. This would take us through probably the end of August for that extra unemployment. That would be great news because a lot of these jobs are not coming back. It’s going to take people a longer period of time to find new work.
GAYLE KING: And you know this, Jill. It sort of picks up what you just said. A lot of families are still struggling financially. Is there anything else in the bill that would help them?
JILL SCHLESINGER: There is a big push to help the people most impacted negatively by COVID. And that is the people who make less than $50,000. There are some really important aspects of this. An expansion of sick and paid medical leave for families. That will be very important for those people who don’t have insurance right now. We also are likely to see an expansion of the child tax credit up to $3,000 per child. $3,600 if your kid’s under the age of six.
And then a big piece for this tax season. The earned income tax credit. This is usually for lower wage Americans. They’re going to expand the level at which you can receive it. So you put these three things together, that’s a lot of help for American families. It’s also why the price tag at $1.9 trillion is starting to balloon because of all these extras that weren’t in previous plans.
TONY DOKOUPIL: Yeah, Jill, one more point of help. Potentially, right now there’s a $15 minimum federal wage in the bill. If that survives, will survive, how hopeful should people feel right now?
JILL SCHLESINGER: I don’t think it’s likely to survive. There’s a technicality about whether this can actually get in through budget reconciliation, which is how the Democrats are likely to pass this. But, just to remember, $15 minimum wage exists in many places. Many states are moving that way. I think we are on the path to getting to a $15 minimum wage. And by the way, you think it sounds like a lot of money. It’s about $31,000 a year. So we’re not talking about paying people $100,000 a year. I don’t think it gets into this bill, but the Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders, are really pushing hard on this one.
TONY DOKOUPIL: All right. We shall see. Jill Schlesinger, thank you very much. I want to tuck in a mention here about the stock trading platform Robinhood which is increasing customer support after being accused of not giving clients enough help, and, in one case, that alleged lack of help causing a young man’s death. Now Robin Hood says it is adding hundreds of full time registered financial reps. It did it last year. It’s going to double that number this year. In a statement, Robinhood said, quote, “we want to make sure we’re there for customers, especially in time-sensitive situations,” specifically mentioning live phone support for customers with options issues.
Now that is exactly the issue that Alex Kearns faced. You may recall, we told you about Kearns. He’s a 20-year-old who mistakenly believed he had lost nearly 3/4 of a million dollars in failed options trades. He took his life last year after Robinhood did not respond to several emails for help. We spoke to his parents about it.
Do you think if Robinhood had somebody manning an email account or picking up a phone that Alex would be here today?
DOROTHY KEARNS: Absolutely.
DAN KEARNS: Yeah. I have no doubt.
DOROTHY KEARNS: He just wanted an answer.
DAN KEARNS: He just needed a little help. He could have gotten answers to those questions and there was nobody there to do that for him.
TONY DOKOUPIL: The Kearns family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Robinhood. The trading app said at the time it was devastated by the Kearn’s death. This could help other families. For their family, of course, though, you hope because–
GAYLE KING: Unfortunately–
TONY DOKOUPIL: –because that’s–
GAYLE KING: Unfortunately it’s not going to help the Kearns family, but it does sound like Robinhood is listening.
TONY DOKOUPIL: Yeah, yeah. They’re definitely taking action.
ANTHONY MASON: One would hope.
GAYLE KING: What were you going to say, Anthony?
ANTHONY MASON: No, just, you know, I hope they’re listening.
GAYLE KING: Yeah.
ANTHONY MASON: There was a demonstration at the congressional hearing where they got a recorded message again. Yeah, it’s like.