Biden signs American Rescue Plan, will address nation today

“Tomorrow night, I’m going to (deliver a) prime-time address to the American people and talk about what we’ve been through as a nation this past year, but more importantly, I’m going to talk about what comes next,” President Joe Biden said on Wednesday. “I’m going to launch the next phase of the Covid response and explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people.

“There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of the past year. But we cannot let our guard down now or assume the victory is inevitable. Together, we’re gonna get through this pandemic and usher in a healthier and more hopeful future.”

That speech will air at 8 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Mountain and 5 p.m. Pacific.

Also on Wednesday, the White House issued a release on how working Americans will receive their direct payments after the House and Senate have passed the American Rescue Plan.

Saying he wanted it signed as early as possible, Biden signed the plan today instead of signing it into law on Friday as originally planned.

The bill is one of the biggest federal efforts in years to assist lower- and middle-income families, passed in the House 220-211 on Wednesday.

Included are expanded tax credits over the next year for children, child care and family leave — some of them credits that Democrats have signaled they’d like to make permanent — plus spending for renters, feeding programs and people’s utility bills.

Besides the direct payments and jobless-benefit extension, the measure has hundreds of billions for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, schools, state and local governments and ailing industries from airlines to concert halls.

A study issued March 11 by the Urban Institute says that four key elements of the American Rescue Plan Act would reduce the projected poverty rate for 2021 by more than one-third.  An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found last week that 70% of Americans back Biden’s response to the virus, including a hefty 44% of Republicans.

“In an earlier analysis, we projected that without this legislation, the 2021 annual poverty rate would be 13.7 percent, the authors wrote. “We project that key elements of the American Rescue Plan would reduce that annual poverty rate to 8.7 percent.

“The policies would reduce poverty by more than half for children and for people in households experiencing job loss.

“Poverty would fall about 42 percent for Black, non-Hispanic people, 39 percent for Hispanic people, and 34 percent for white, non-Hispanic people, reducing the disparities in poverty rates for Black, non-Hispanic people and Hispanic people relative to white, non-Hispanic people.”

No Republican, in either the House or the Senate, voted in favor.

“These efforts started as a way to provide specific relief to those struggling during the pandemic, but have grown so large that less than a quarter of the funds even pertain to combatting COVID-19, with the vast majority funding a liberal wish list of items including providing stimulus payments to illegal immigrants, bailing out liberal states’ long-term debt unrelated to COVID-19, and directing taxpayer funds toward abortion,” U.S. Representative Russ Fulcher, Idaho First District, said. “The completely-partisan bill is being pushed through by Speaker Pelosi without any negotiation or compromise from republicans, some justifying this by saying it’s ‘emergency’ aid and needed immediately. This doesn’t add up, with substantial portions of this package not going into effect immediately– and others having no relation to those feeling a direct impact from COVID-19.”

The Treasury and IRS are working to ensure that we will be able to start getting payments out this month. And the IRS and Bureau of the Fiscal Service are building on lessons learned from previous rounds of payments to increase the number of households that will get electronic payments, which are substantially faster than checks.

Here’s an overview of what the American people need to know about the direct payments in the American Rescue Plan:

For households who have already filed their income tax return for 2020, the IRS will use that information to determine eligibility and size of payments.

For households that haven’t yet filed for 2020, the IRS will review records from 2019 to determine eligibility and size of payment. That includes those who used the “non-filer portal” for previous rounds of payments.

For tax returns with direct deposit or bank account information, the IRS will be able to send money electronically. For those households for which Treasury cannot determine a bank account, paper checks or debit cards will be sent.

John’s Hopkins map

Here’s an example of what direct payments passed in the American Rescue Plan mean for a typical family of four – with parents making $75,000 a year combined, and with kids in school aged 8 and 5:

Because of the President’s American Rescue Plan, that family of four will soon be getting $5,600 in direct payments, $1,400 for each parent and child.

Because of the expanded Child Tax Credit, they will also get $2,600 more in tax credits than before.

That’s $8,200 more in the pockets of this family as they try to weather this storm – on top of additional money in this bill to reopen schools safely, get shots in arms faster, and help those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

As of today, Boundary County has had 824 total COVID 19 cases and 10 deaths, with no active cases as of March 10. Lincoln County has had 1,510 cases, with 14 fatal, with seven cases active as of Wednesday morning.

Idaho has had 174,246 cases, 456 of the confirmed on Wednesday, and 1,901 deaths. A total of 295,208 Idahoans have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, 175,439 people are fully vaccinated.

Montana has seen 101,424 COVID-19 cases, 190 of them confirmed in the day ended at 10 a.m. today, and 1,391 dead. A total of 333,647 Montanans have received at least one dose of vaccine, 126,507 are fully immunized.

Nationwide, 29,158,244 Americans have suffered COVID-19, 25-percent of the global total, and 529,469 have died, 20-percent of global deaths, making the United States by far the hardest hit nation in the world.