The spread of the Delta variant has delayed office reopenings, disrupted the start of school and generally dashed hopes for a return to normal after Labor Day. But it has not pushed the U.S. economic recovery into reverse.
Now that recovery faces a new test: the removal of much of the aid that has helped keep households and businesses afloat for the past year and a half.
The Paycheck Protection Program, which distributed hundreds of billions of dollars in grants and loans to thousands of small businesses, concluded last spring. A federal eviction moratorium ended last month after the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s last-minute effort to extend it. Most recently, an estimated 7.5 million people lost unemployment benefits when programs that expanded the system during the pandemic were allowed to lapse.
Next up: the Federal Reserve, which on Wednesday indicated it could start pulling back its stimulus efforts as early as November.
OpenTable, for example, have fallen less than 10 percent from their early-July peak. That is a far smaller decline than during the last Covid surge, last winter.
“It has moved down, but it’s not the same sort of decline,” Mr. Bryson said of the OpenTable data. “We’re living with it.”
$120 billion in monthly bond purchases — which have kept borrowing cheap and money flowing through the economy — but it will almost certainly keep interest rates near zero into next year. Millions of parents will continue to receive monthly checks through the end of the year because of the expanded child tax credit passed in March as part of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid package.
That bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, also provided $350 billion to state and local governments, $21.6 billion in rental aid and $10 billion in mortgage assistance, among other programs. But much has not been spent, said Wendy Edelberg, director of the Hamilton Project, an economic-policy arm of the Brookings Institution.
“Those delays are frustrating,” she said. “At the same time, what that also means is that support is going to continue having an effect over the next several quarters.”
Household savings could provide a buffer — if they last.
Economists, including officials in the Biden administration, say that as the economy heals, there will be a gradual “handoff” from government aid to the private sector. That transition could be eased by a record-setting pile of household savings, which could help prop up consumer spending as government aid wanes.
A lot of that money is held by richer, white-collar workers who held on to their jobs and saw their stock portfolios swell even as the pandemic constrained their spending. But many lower-income households have built up at least a small savings cushion during the pandemic because of stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits and other aid, according to researchers at the JPMorgan Chase Institute.
“The good news is that people are going into the fall with some reserves, more reserves than normal,” said Fiona Greig, co-director of the institute. “That can give them some runway in which to look for a job.”
recent survey by Alignable, a social network for small business owners. Not all have had sales turn lower, said Eric Groves, the company’s chief executive. But the uncertainty is hitting at a crucial moment, heading into the holiday season.
“This is a time of year when business owners in the consumer sector in particular are trying to pull out their crystal ball,” he said. “Now is when they have to be purchasing inventory and doing all that planning.”
open a new location as part of a development project on the West Side of Manhattan.
Go big. If some aid ended up going to people or businesses that didn’t really need help, that was a reasonable trade-off for the benefit of getting money to the millions who did.
Today, the calculus is different. The impact of the pandemic is more tightly focused on a few industries and groups. At the same time, many businesses are having trouble getting workers and materials to meet existing demand. Traditional forms of stimulus that seek to stoke demand won’t help them. If automakers can’t get needed parts, for example, giving money to households won’t lead to more car sales — but it might lead to higher prices.
That puts policymakers in a tight spot. If they don’t get help to those who are struggling, it could cause individual hardship and weaken the recovery. But indiscriminate spending could worsen supply problems and lead to inflation. That calls for a more targeted approach, focusing on the specific groups and industries that need it most, said Nela Richardson, chief economist for ADP, the payroll processing firm.
“There are a lot of arrows in the quiver still, but you need them to go into the bull’s-eye now rather than just going all over,” Ms. Richardson said.
The share of people living in poverty in the United States fell to a record low last year as an enormous government relief effort helped offset the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression.
In the latest and most conclusive evidence that poverty fell because of the aid, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday that 9.1 percent of Americans were living below the poverty line last year, down from 11.8 percent in 2019. That figure — the lowest since records began in 1967, according to calculations from researchers at Columbia University — is based on a measure that accounts for the impact of government programs. The official measure of poverty, which leaves out some major aid programs, rose to 11.4 percent of the population.
The new data will almost surely feed into a debate in Washington about efforts by President Biden and congressional leaders to enact a more lasting expansion of the safety net that would extend well beyond the pandemic. Democrats’ $3.5 trillion plan, which is still taking shape, could include paid family and medical leave, government-supported child care and a permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
Liberals cited the success of relief programs, which were also highlighted in an Agriculture Department report last week that showed that hunger did not rise in 2020, to argue that such policies ought to be expanded. But conservatives argue that higher federal spending is not needed and would increase the federal debt while discouraging people from working.
difficult to assess changes in health coverage last year. Census estimates conflicted with other government counts, and officials acknowledged problems with data collection during the pandemic.
federal supplement to state unemployment benefits lapsed. She fell behind on bills, setting in motion events that ultimately left her family homeless for two months this year.
New aid programs adopted this year, including the expanded Child Tax Credit, helped Ms. Long, who moved into a new home last month. She said she had noticed improvements in her children, particularly her 5-year-old son.
“It was bad, but it could have been so much worse, and we have come out the other side once again unbroken,” Ms. Long said.
By the government’s official definition, the number of people living in poverty jumped by 3.3 million in 2020, to 37.2 million, among the biggest annual increases on record. But economists have long criticized that definition, which dates to the 1960s, and said it did a particularly poor job of reflecting reality last year.
7.5 million people lost unemployment benefits this month after Congress allowed expansions of the program to lapse.
Jen Dessinger, a photographer who lives in New York City and Los Angeles, said work dried up abruptly at the start of the pandemic. A freelancer, she didn’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits but eventually received help under a federal program created last year to help people who fell outside the regular system.
Now that program has ended in the middle of another surge in coronavirus cases. Ms. Dessinger said a single positive coronavirus case could shut down a photo shoot. “It’s made it a more desperate situation,” she said.
Democrats on Tuesday said experiences like Ms. Dessinger’s showed both the potential for government aid to protect people from financial ruin, and the need for a more expansive, permanent safety net that can support people in bad and good times.
A White House economist, Jared Bernstein, said on Tuesday that the new poverty data should encourage lawmakers to enact the $3.5 trillion Democratic measure that includes much of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda, which the administration argues will create more and better-paying jobs.
“It’s one thing to temporarily lift people out of poverty — hugely important — but you can’t stop there,” said Mr. Bernstein, a member of Mr. Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers. “We have to make sure that people don’t fall back into poverty after these temporary measures abate.”
“reckless taxing and spending spree.”
Conservative policy experts said that although some expansion of government aid was appropriate during the pandemic, those programs should be wound down, not expanded, as the economy healed.
“Policymakers did a remarkable job last March enacting CARES and other legislation, lending to businesses, providing loan forbearance, expanding the safety net,” Scott Winship, a senior fellow and the director of poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative group, wrote in reaction to the data, referring to an early pandemic aid bill, which included around $2 trillion in spending. “But we should have pivoted to other priorities thereafter.”
Jason DeParle and Margot Sanger-Katz contributed reporting.
“The advance of the credit reduces the total amount of taxes paid,” said Rob Seltzer, an accountant in Los Angeles. “So there could be a problem with an estimated tax penalty,” depending on how much the taxpayer earns this year compared with last. It may make sense to run a tax projection with a professional to see if it makes sense to opt out.
If you’ve left the country
You need to live in the United States for more than half of 2021 to be eligible for the advanced payments, but expatriate taxpayers can still claim the expanded credit on their return, according to the I.R.S. (The refundable portion of the credit, however, will be curtailed to the prior $1,400 limit.) Military members stationed abroad are still eligible for the advanced payments.
If you rely on a big refund
Some households are simply accustomed to getting a large refund when they file, using it as a forced savings plan. If you have come to depend on a big refund, you can opt out of all future payments and receive the full value of the credit when you file your return next year.
“Opting out or making changes to the payment comes down to personal preference of when and how you want to receive the money,” said Andy Phillips, the director of the Tax Institute at H&R Block. “If you prefer monthly payments of smaller amounts, no need to make changes.”
If you’re still unsure what to do
Sheila Taylor-Clark, a certified public accountant and secretary of the National Society of Black C.P.A.s, has practical advice for clients who don’t necessarily want to opt out but who may be uncertain on where they stand: “Drop that money into an interest-bearing account, so if you owe money you can just send that back next April,” she said.
How to make changes and opt out
To opt out of receiving the payments, taxpayers should visit the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll need to create one. And if you’re married and file a joint return, both spouses will need to create accounts and opt out; spouses who don’t opt out will continue to receive half of the advance monthly payment.
Besides stopping the checks, the portal can be used to check the status of your payments; change the bank account receiving them; or to switch your payments to direct deposit from paper checks.
Good morning and happy May. Is anyone else itching for a vacation, or just a chance to go … elsewhere? Good news: If you’re vaccinated, you could escape to Europe (and help boost its ailing tourism industry) as soon as this summer. Here’s what you need to know for the week ahead in business and tech news. — Charlotte Cowles
What’s Up? (April 25-May 1)
Plan No. 3
In his first address to Congress, President Biden detailed his American Families Plan, the third huge spending proposal that he has put forth in his 100 days in office. (The first was the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, signed into law in March, and the second was the American Jobs Plan, which focuses on infrastructure and has yet to pass Congress.) The latest proposal includes financing for universal prekindergarten, federal paid family leave, a permanent expanded child tax credit, subsidized child care for low- and middle-income families and free community college, among other initiatives. To pay for it, Mr. Biden wants to raise taxes on the rich. But most Republicans are opposed to tax increases and say the plan costs too much.
Up Goes the G.D.P.
More signs of life from the economy. The country’s first-quarter gross domestic product was up 6.4 percent, at an annualized rate, according to the Commerce Department. That’s almost back to its prepandemic high. Consumer spending is also on the rise, and some analysts believe that it could grow more than 9 percent this year — a record — as health and job conditions continue to improve, and travel and dining open back up.
great for the tech giants. Amazon’s latest quarterly report showed such blockbuster sales — up 44 percent from the previous year — that it beat even the most optimistic forecasts. Meanwhile, Apple’s profits grew 54 percent, mostly thanks to soaring iPhone sales. And Facebook nearly doubled its revenue during the same time period, while Twitter’s jumped 28 percent. (Both companies have barred former President Donald J. Trump and some extremist figures from posting on their platforms since January, but it clearly hasn’t hurt their bottom lines.)
What’s Next? (May 2-8)
A Is for Antitrust
The fight between Apple and Epic Games, which makes the popular video game Fortnite, heads to a federal court in California this week. The dispute began last year when Epic started selling Fortnite directly to its customers, violating its contract with Apple, which makes a 30 percent commission from App Store sales. Apple retaliated by kicking Fortnight off its store, and Epic fought back with a lawsuit. The case will be closely watched by other companies and lawmakers who have raised concerns about the App Store’s anti-competitive practices. Those include European regulators, who on Friday accused Apple of violating antitrust laws by imposing unfair rules and fees on rival music-streaming services.
Price Check in the Cereal Aisle
For the good of your fellow humans, don’t stockpile toilet paper. But bear in mind that it’s about to get more expensive. Companies like Procter & Gamble, General Mills and Kimberly-Clark are all raising prices on everyday necessities like tampons, toilet paper, diapers and cereal this year to make up for increasing costs of production and shipping. Those costs grew during the pandemic, particularly when supply chains were pinched, but companies were reluctant to pass them along to struggling consumers. Now that the economy is starting to stabilize, expect some price adjustments to make up for the past year.
Pack Your Bags
The travel industry is ready for takeoff — if you’re vaccinated, that is. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased rules for cruise lines to resume operations, allowing some ships to set sail as soon as mid-July if they attest that 98 percent of the crew and 95 percent of passengers are fully vaccinated. And the European Union said that American tourists with vaccine certificates would be allowed to visit the bloc this summer, more than a year since it banned nonessential travel from most countries.
a long-anticipated ban on selling menthol cigarettes as well as all flavored cigars. (Possession will remain legal, however.) Amazon will increase pay between 50 cents and $3 an hour for half a million of its workers. And the Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero, playing down a rise in inflation and promising to continue support for the recovering economy.
The U.S. population grew by only 7.4 percent over the past decade, the smallest increase since the 1930s, the Census Bureau reported yesterday. This morning, I want to explain why and talk about both the upsides and downsides of slower population growth.
17 percent fewer children than in 1990 — and about 50 percent fewer than in 1960. The U.S. still has a higher fertility rate than Japan and Germany, but it is in the same range as Britain and Sweden and below France and Ireland. There are now more Americans 80 and older than 2 or younger.
The second factor behind the slow population growth is a decline in legal immigration during Donald Trump’s presidency. (Illegal immigration does not appear to have changed significantly.)
relatively flimsy child care programs. Historically, birthrates have declined as societies become more educated and wealthier.
Lower levels of immigration can also have upsides. The big wage gains for American workers during the mid-20th century had many causes, including strong labor unions, rising educational attainment and high tax rates on top incomes. But the tight immigration restrictions of that period also played a role.
“Immigration restriction, by making unskilled labor more scarce, tended to shore up wage rates,” the labor historian Irving Bernstein wrote in a 1960 book. The economists Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson have noted that economic inequality declined more during the mid-20th century in countries with slower labor force growth.
And the big downsides
Over all, though, the slowdown in population growth is probably a net negative for the U.S. — as both conservatives (like Ross Douthat) and liberals (like Michelle Goldberg) have argued.
For one thing, polls show that many Americans want more children than they are having, as The Times’s Claire Cain Miller has noted. But the slow-growing incomes and a shortage of good child care options have led some people to decide that they cannot afford to have as many children as they would like. The decline in the birthrate, in other words, is partly a reflection of American society’s failure to support families.
will be part of his speech to Congress tomorrow night.)
A second problem with slow population growth involves global affairs. The U.S. now faces the most serious challenge to its supremacy since the Cold War — from China. The future path of the two countries’ economic growth will help determine their relative strength. And population growth, in turn, helps determine economic growth, especially in an advanced economy. To have any hope of keeping up with China and its vastly larger population, the U.S. will probably need bigger population increases than it has recently had.
Viewed in these terms, the population slowdown is a threat to national security. “I don’t know of a precedent for a dynamic country that has basically stopped growing,” The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson has written.
In Matthew Yglesias’s recent book “One Billion Americans,” he argues that the U.S. should rapidly increase legal immigration to lift economic output. “America should aspire to be the greatest nation on earth,” Yglesias, the author of a Substack newsletter, writes. The only realistic alternative for that role is China, an authoritarian country that is jailing critics and committing egregious human rights abuses.
Higher levels of immigration also have a direct benefit: More of the millions of people around the world who want to move to the U.S. get the chance to do so.
More from the census report:
The population continued to shift from the Northeast and the Midwest to the Sun Belt, and California will lose a congressional seat for the first time in history.
See for yourself.
Lives Lived: Helen Weaver fell in love with Jack Kerouac months before “On the Road” rocketed him to literary fame, and recorded their romance in an enduring book of her own decades later. She died at 89.
the first player since Babe Ruth to start a game as a pitcher while also leading Major League Baseball in home runs. Nearly every other modern player is either a hitter or a pitcher. Ohtani is simultaneously one of the world’s hardest-throwing pitchers and best sluggers — and a fleet base runner. He is “a unicorn, a miracle, a revelation unto himself,” Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri has written.
There is a problem, though. Since moving from Japan in 2018 to join the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani has often been injured. He has needed arm surgery, and has had knee problems and blisters. Many people have begun to wonder if Ohtani should avoid extra strain and stick to only hitting.
“Everybody’s rooting for him, but if he continues to struggle with regular pitching duties, it’s almost like a Bo Jackson kind of career — we know he’s capable of being a two-way star (in Bo’s case, football and baseball),” our colleague Tyler Kepner told us. “But we only get a taste of it, and we’re always left hungry for more.”
In his appearance last night, Ohtani gave up four runs in five innings — and had two RBIs — as the Angels beat the Texas Rangers, 9 to 4.
WASHINGTON — The next phase of President Biden’s $4 trillion push to overhaul the American economy will seek to raise taxes on millionaire investors to fund education and other spending plans, but it will not take steps to expand health coverage or reduce prescription drug prices, according to people familiar with the proposal.
Administration officials had planned to include a health care expansion of up to $700 billion, offset by efforts to reduce government spending on prescription drugs. But they have decided to instead pursue health care as a separate initiative, a move that sidesteps a fight among liberals on Capitol Hill but that risks upsetting some progressive groups that have pushed Mr. Biden to prioritize health issues.
The president is set to outline his so-called American Family Plan, which includes measures aimed at helping Americans gain skills throughout life and have more flexibility in the work force, before his first address to a joint session of Congress next week. Its details remain a work in progress and could change in the days before the announcement.
But after weeks of work, administration officials have closed in on the final version of what will be the second half of Mr. Biden’s sweeping economic agenda, which also includes the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan the president described last month. That plan focused largely on physical infrastructure spending, like repairing bridges and water pipes and building electric vehicle charging stations, and was funded by tax increases on corporations.
expanded tax credit for parents — which is essentially a monthly payment from the government for most families — that was created on a temporary basis by the $1.9 trillion economic aid package Mr. Biden signed into law last month. The duration of that extension was earlier reported by The Washington Post.
Democrats on Capitol Hill have urged Mr. Biden to instead make permanent that credit, which analysts say will drastically cut child poverty this year. Those pushing Mr. Biden include Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Suzan DelBene of Washington and Ritchie Torres of New York.
Today in Business
“Expansion of the child tax credit is the most significant policy to come out of Washington in generations, and Congress has an historic opportunity to provide a lifeline to the middle class and to cut child poverty in half on a permanent basis,” the lawmakers said this week in a joint statement. “No recovery will be complete unless our tax code provides a sustained pathway to economic prosperity for working families and children.”
The family plan will also include some type of extension for an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, which was included in the earlier aid package on a one-year basis.
The plan’s spending and tax credits will total around $1.5 trillion, according to administration estimates, in keeping with early versions of the two-step agenda first reported last month by The New York Times.
To offset that cost, Mr. Biden will propose several tax increases he included in his campaign’s “Build Back Better” agenda. That starts with raising the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6 percent from 37 percent, the level it was cut to by President Donald J. Trump’s tax overhaul in 2017. Mr. Biden would also raise taxes on capital gains — the proceeds of selling an asset like a stock or a boat — for people earning more than $1 million, effectively increasing the rate they pay on that income to 39.6 percent from 20 percent.
The president will also propose eliminating a provision of the tax code that reduces taxes for wealthy heirs who sell assets they inherit, like art or property, that have gained value over time. And he would raise revenue by increasing enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service to bring in more money from wealthy Americans who evade taxes.
Administration officials were debating other possible tax increases that could be included in the plan this week, like capping deductions for wealthy taxpayers or increasing the estate tax on wealthy heirs.
All of the tax provisions would keep with Mr. Biden’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on individuals or households earning less than $400,000 a year.
Previous versions of the family plan, circulated inside the White House, also called for raising revenues by enacting measures to reduce the cost of prescription drugs bought using government health care programs. That money would have funded a continued expansion of health coverage subsidies for insurance bought through the Affordable Care Act, which were also temporarily expanded by the economic aid bill earlier this year. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California had pushed for that continued expansion.
Mr. Biden’s team was under pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and the chairman of the Budget Committee, to instead focus his health care efforts on a plan to expand Medicare. Mr. Sanders has pushed the administration to lower Medicare’s eligibility age and expand it to cover vision, dental and hearing services.
Taxpayers who already filed their 2020 returns should not amend them to take advantage of tax breaks that were created by the new $1.9 trillion pandemic relief legislation, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, Charles Rettig, told lawmakers on Thursday, saying that the I.R.S. would automatically send refunds to those who qualify.
Mr. Rettig, speaking at a congressional hearing, was referring to a provision in the law that provides a tax exemption on the first $10,200 of jobless benefits collected in 2020 by unemployed workers whose households earned less than $150,000.
“We believe that we will be able to automatically issue refunds associated with the $10,200,” Mr. Rettig said.
According to The Century Foundation, about 40 million Americans received unemployment insurance last year.
from April 15 to May 17, to give itself and taxpayers more time to handle returns and refunds.
The Treasury Department and the I.R.S. are also racing to develop new regulations and update systems to reflect other aspects of the March relief law.
Treasury officials said at a briefing on Thursday that they are working with the I.R.S. to develop a new online portal to disburse advance payments for the expanded Child Tax Credit, which will provide up to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17, regardless of whether a family earns enough to pay income taxes.
The portal will allow taxpayers to upload relevant data for midyear payment adjustments, such as the birth of a child, the officials said.
Treasury officials also said the department is working on additional guidance on how states can use money included in the relief law. That will include clarity about how states must repay relief funds if they decide to cut taxes after receiving aid.
WASHINGTON — A quarter-century ago, a Democratic president celebrated “the end of welfare as we know it,” challenging the poor to exercise “independence” and espousing balanced budgets and smaller government.
The Democratic Party capped a march in the opposite direction this week.
Its first major legislative act under President Biden was a deficit-financed, $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” filled with programs as broad as expanded aid to nearly every family with children and as targeted as payments to Black farmers. While providing an array of benefits to the middle class, it is also a poverty-fighting initiative of potentially historic proportions, delivering more immediate cash assistance to families at the bottom of the income scale than any federal legislation since at least the New Deal.
Behind that shift is a realignment of economic, political and social forces, some decades in the making and others accelerated by the pandemic, that enabled a rapid advance in progressive priorities.
Rising inequality and stagnant incomes over much of the past two decades left a growing share of Americans — of all races, in conservative states and liberal ones, in inner cities and small towns — concerned about making ends meet. New research documented the long-term damage from child poverty.
economic equity at the forefront of the new administration’s agenda.
Whether the new law is a one-off culmination of those forces, or a down payment on even more ambitious efforts to address the nation’s challenges of poverty and opportunity, will be a defining battle for Democrats in the Biden era.
broadly popular with voters, an intensified focus on worker struggles on both the left and the right, including Republicans’ increasing efforts to define themselves as a party of the working class, has scrambled the politics of economic policy across the ideological spectrum.
prominent conservatives have welcomed the antipoverty provisions, applauding them as pro-family even though they violate core tenets of the Republican Party’s decades-long position that government aid is a disincentive to work.
Many Republicans from conservative-leaning states have turned increased attention to growing social problems in their own backyards, in the middle of an opioid crisis and economic stagnation that has left rural Americans with higher poverty rates than urban Americans, particularly for children.
An emerging strain of conservatism, often supported by a new generation of economic thinkers, has embraced expanded spending for families with children, to help lower-income workers and, in some cases, to encourage families to have more children. The conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt celebrated the expanded child credit in a series of Twitter posts on Friday, urging parents to use the proceeds to send their children to parochial school, and said he would work to make them permanent.
nearly six million children out of poverty, “came to be part of the package because families that earn in the bottom third of the income distribution, or at least of the wage distribution, have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic,” said Cecilia Rouse, the chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Democrats and poverty researchers began laying the groundwork for many of those provisions years ago, amid economic changes that exposed holes in the safety net. When a 2015 book by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, “$2.00 a Day,” argued that rising numbers of families spent months with virtually no cash income, Mr. Brown arranged for all his Democratic Senate colleagues to receive a copy.
At the same time, many scholars shifted their focus from whether government benefits discouraged parents from working to whether the vagaries of a low-wage labor market left parents with adequate money to raise a child.
A growing body of academic research, which Obama administration officials began to herald shortly before leaving office, showed that a large proportion of children spent part of their childhood below the poverty line and that even short episodes of poverty left children less likely to prosper as adults. A landmark report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2019 found that aid programs left children better off.
“That allowed us to change the conversation,” away from the dangers of dependency “to the good these programs do,” said Hilary W. Hoynes, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who served on the committee that wrote the report.
cut child poverty from prepandemic levels among whites by 39 percent, Latinos by 45 percent and African-Americans by 52 percent.
“Covid exposed the fissures of systemic racism and systemic poverty that already existed,” said the Rev. William J. Barber II, who helps run the Poor People’s Campaign, an effort to get the needy more involved in electoral politics. “It forced a deeper conversation about poverty and wages in this country.”
White House officials and Democratic leaders in Congress say Mr. Biden’s rescue plan has now changed that conversation, creating momentum for permanent expansions of many of its antipoverty efforts. Multiple researchers project the bill will cut child poverty in half this year.
Democrats say they will turn that into an argument against Republicans who might oppose making the benefits permanent. “You’re voting for doubling the child poverty rate — you’re going to do that?” Mr. Brown said.
In selling the plan, Mr. Biden has blurred the lines between the poor and the middle class, treating them less as distinct groups with separate problems than as overlapping and shifting populations of people who were struggling with economic insecurity even before the pandemic. Last week, he at once talked of “millions of people out of work through no fault of their own” and cited the benefits his plan would bring to families with annual incomes of $100,000.
“This is part of why I think it is more transformational,” said Brian Deese, who heads Mr. Biden’s National Economic Council. “This is not just a targeted antipoverty program.”
In coming months, Democrats will face significant hurdles in making provisions like the child benefit permanent, including pressure from fiscal hawks to offset them by raising taxes or cutting other spending.
But the swift passage of even the temporary provisions has left many antipoverty experts delighted.
“A year ago, I would have said it was a pipe dream,” said Stacy Taylor, who tracks poverty policy for Fresh EBT by Propel, a phone application used by millions of food stamp recipients. “I can’t believe we’re going to have a guaranteed income for families with children.”
The Covid-19 relief legislation signed by President Biden on Thursday includes a larger increase in direct aid to families than in any other pandemic relief bills passed so far — an average of $6,660 for households with children, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
estimates, the bill could cut child poverty in half this year.
The bill accomplishes this in primarily two ways: a significant increase in stimulus payments per child, and a larger child tax credit that will benefit the lowest-income families in particular.
The coming stimulus checks are larger for adults than in the first two rounds — $1,400 per adult, compared with $1,200 per adult in a bill passed in March 2020 and $600 per adult in December. The same income thresholds apply for receiving the full amount: $75,000 for singles, $112,500 for heads of households and $150,000 for married couples, though the check amounts phase out much faster for earners above those levels.
The biggest increase is for children and other dependents. In the first two rounds, taxpayers received $500 and then $600 for each dependent child. This round includes $1,400 for each dependent child and adult dependent, which includes college students.
And unlike in previous rounds of stimulus, the child tax credit has been increased. It is now worth $3,600 per child under 5 and $3,000 per older child, from $2,000 per child. Low-income families will benefit the most, because they will now be eligible for the full amount, even if their tax liability is very low.
Previously, parents could deduct the $2,000-per-child credit from their tax liability. If they did not pay that much in taxes, they could be eligible to receive up to $1,400 as a refundable credit. Now, all parents will receive the full amount, with half of the value of the credit issued in advance beginning in July.
Income thresholds for the full child tax credit are the same as for the stimulus payments. The credits fully phase out for unmarried taxpayers earning $240,000 or more, and for married couples earning $440,000.
The military and its brutal practices have been on the global stage since a coup last month. The generals are now fully back in charge, and the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has turned its guns on the masses, who have mounted a nationwide civil disobedience movement.
But the military has a long legacy of atrocities that has instilled an omnipresent fear in Myanmar.
During the last three years, the Tatmadaw has waged war against ethnic rebel armies in three states, Rakhine, Shan and Kachin, displacing 700,000 Rohingya Muslims. Survivors and witnesses described to us the campaign, which has included killings, systemic rape and abuse. Men and boys were often used as human shields by the soldiers.
In October, Sayedul Amin, a 28-year-old Rohingya man, was fishing when he and others were rounded up by soldiers. “We were ordered to walk in front of the soldiers,” he said. “It seems that they wanted us to shield them if anyone attacked.” He was hit by two bullets.
Quotable: “This is an army with a heart of darkness,” said David Scott Mathieson, an independent analyst. “This is an unrepentant institution.”
reports the BBC.
the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development expects the American economy to accelerate nearly twice as fast as predicted, but warned that countries struggling with vaccination distribution, especially those in Europe, risk falling behind.
Civil Liberties Union for Europe, a human rights group, warns that policies put in place by governments to fight the pandemic have weakened democracy across the continent, based on an analysis of 14 countries.
A year after its first lockdown, Italy surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths. The country is facing a large wave of infections driven by new variants.
neglected electric cars while dominating the global market for gasoline-electric hybrids. Automakers around the world are making bold pledges to transition to electric fleets, and national governments are issuing mandates to increase electric-car sales or to ban gasoline-burning vehicles. Japan’s auto industry could be left behind.
Power player: Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota and chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, has accused the Japanese news media of inflating the commercial and environmental value of all-electric vehicles. His company, which is the worldwide leader in hybrid car sales, sets the tone for the industry. Toyota is also heavily invested in clean-burning hydrogen, a technology that has yet to go mainstream.
our correspondent writes.
Prince Harry has often spoken with anguish about what happened to his mother when she was cast out of the royal family after her divorce from Prince Charles and later died in a car wreck. He made an explicit comparison during the bombshell interview on Sunday when he referred to the “constant barrage” of criticism and racist attacks on his wife.
Here’s what else is happening
Royal family: Buckingham Palace issued a statement on Tuesday in response to an explosive interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, saying the family was “saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been” for the couple. The queen said the issues raised were “very concerning” and would be addressed by the family.
Catalonian crisis: The European Parliament has stripped the immunity of Carles Puigdemont, the former separatist leader of Catalonia, clearing the way for another attempt by Spain to extradite and try him on sedition charges. Now it is up to the Belgian judiciary to rule on sending him back.
many have come to make a new start — and they even saved the school from closing.
Atlantic article about how the internet doesn’t have to be terrible.
Now, a break from the news
creamy braised white beans are simmered with milk, a whole head of garlic, herbs and nutmeg for a rich vegetarian dinner that can be on the table in under a half-hour.
Watch: A romance between a refugee and an escaped child bride is at the heart of the animated film “Bombay Rose.”
Listen: At the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, there will be no shortage of big-name matchups in the major categories. Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa dominate the nominations.
For a fascinating book or a fabulous recipe, turn to our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
Last month, Apple TV+ released “Billie: The World’s a Little Blurry,” a documentary depicting the rise of the singer Billie Eilish and the creation of her Grammy-winning debut album. It follows other recent documentaries about pop stars including Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and the girl group Blackpink.
The artists or their labels helped produce all of these films, which promise an unvarnished glimpse into the lives of the performers. That’s not quite what they deliver.
long used documentaries to manage their images, even when the production team is technically independent. Music labels are often involved in the documentaries, in part because “directors have little choice: films about musicians need music, and licensing can be prohibitively expensive,” Danny Funt writes in the Columbia Journalism Review.
Perhaps the best way to approach celebrity documentaries is to enjoy them for what they are: carefully constructed entertainment. In Eilish’s case, the documentary often feels “almost observational, like a nature film,” The Times critic Jon Caramanica writes in a review. Still, he says, “there is never anything other than a sense of safety in this footage.”
As Simran Hans writes in The Guardian, “Artists continue to utilize the documentary form as a shorthand for truth — but that truth is still another construction.”
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Thank you Whet Moser, Carole Landry and Amelia Nierenberg contributed to today’s briefing. Sanam Yar wrote the Back Story. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. • We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about a provision in the U.S. relief bill that would offer a child tax credit. • Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Dominant personality (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here. • Our Beirut bureau chief Ben Hubbard joined Christiane Amanpour on PBS to discuss U.S.-Saudi Arabia relations.