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    Fed Chief Says U.S. Economy Is at an ‘Inflection Point’ as Risks Remain

    “It’s going to be smart if people can continue to socially distance and wear masks,” Jerome Powell said on “60 Minutes.”WASHINGTON — The economy is at an “inflection point” and on the cusp of growing more quickly, the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday night. But he warned that the crisis was not yet over.In the interview, with “60 Minutes” on CBS, Mr. Powell said that the American economy “has brightened substantially” as more people are vaccinated and businesses reopen. But he cautioned that “there really are risks out there,” specifically coronavirus flare-ups, if Americans return to normal life too quickly.“The principal risk to our economy right now really is that the disease would spread again more quickly,” he said. “And that’s troubling. It’s going to be smart if people can continue to socially distance and wear masks.”The Fed has held interest rates near zero since March 2020 and has been buying about $120 billion in government-backed bonds each month, policies meant to stoke spending by keeping borrowing cheap. Fed officials have been clear that they will continue to support the economy until it is closer to their goals of maximum employment and stable inflation — and that while the situation is improving, it is not there yet.Mr. Powell reiterated that approach on Sunday, saying that the central bank would “consider raising rates when the labor market recovery is essentially complete, and we’re back to maximum employment, and inflation is back to our 2 percent goal and is on track to move above 2 percent for some time.”But he said it would “be a while until we get to that place.”Discussing inflation, Mr. Powell once again made clear that the Fed wanted to see “sustainable” price increases before it adjusted monetary policy.“Inflation has been below 2 percent,” he said. “We want it to be just moderately above 2 percent. So that’s what we’re looking for.” “And when we get that,” he added, “that’s when we’ll raise interest rates.”Some prominent onlookers have warned that the economy has the potential overheat as the federal government pumps out trillions of dollars in stimulus aid and other spending and as the economy reopens, allowing consumers to spend more money.So far, no sustained inflation spike has materialized.Figures show the economy is recovering, albeit slowly. Employers added more than 900,000 workers to payrolls last month, but the country is still missing millions of jobs compared with February 2020, and just last week state jobless claims climbed.Mr. Powell on Sunday highlighted that while some workers were doing well, others had yet to get back to where they were before Covid-19 lockdowns, a phenomenon that will influence when the Fed reduces or removes policy support.“What you’re seeing is some parts of the economy are doing very well, have fully recovered, have even more than fully recovered in some cases,” Mr. Powell said. “And some parts haven’t recovered very much at all yet. So you do see real disparities between different parts of the economy. It’s sort of unusual for an economy like ours.”Mr. Powell also pointed to data that shows the burden is falling hardest on those least able to bear it: Lower-income service workers, who are heavily people of color and women, have been hit hard by job losses.While he expects those workers to get back to their jobs more quickly as the economy rebounds, the Fed needs to “stick with those people and support them as they try to get back to where they were in life, which was working,” he said, adding, “They were in jobs just a year ago.” More

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    As U.S. Prospects Brighten, Fed’s Powell Sees Risk in Global Vaccination Pace

    Some countries are lagging behind in vaccinations, and policymakers warned that no economy is secure until the world is safe from coronavirus variants.Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, emphasized the economic need for worldwide vaccinations on Thursday.Pool photo by Stefani ReynoldsJerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, stressed on Thursday that even as economic prospects look brighter in the United States, getting the world vaccinated and controlling the coronavirus pandemic remain critical to the global outlook.“Viruses are no respecters of borders,” Mr. Powell said while speaking on an International Monetary Fund panel. “Until the world, really, is vaccinated, we’re all going to be at risk of new mutations and we won’t be able to really resume activity with confidence all around the world.”While some advanced economies, including the United States, are moving quickly toward widespread vaccination, many emerging market countries lag far behind: Some have administered as little as one dose per 1,000 residents.Mr. Powell joined a chorus of global policy officials in emphasizing how important it is that all nations — not just the richest ones — are able to widely protect against the coronavirus. Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said policymakers needed to remain focused on public health as the key policy priority.“This year, next year, vaccine policy is economic policy,” Ms. Georgieva said, speaking on the same panel as Mr. Powell. “It is even higher priority than the traditional tools of fiscal and monetary policy. Why? Without it we cannot turn the fate of the world economy around.”Still, she also warned against pulling back on monetary policy support prematurely, saying that clear communication from the United States is helpful and important. The Fed is arguably the world’s most critical central bank thanks to the widely used dollar, and unexpected policy changes in the United States can roil global markets and make it harder for less developed economies to recover.“Premature withdrawal of support can cut the recovery short,” she cautioned.The Fed has held interest rates near zero since March 2020 and has been buying about $120 billion in government-backed bonds per month, policies meant to stoke spending by keeping borrowing cheap. Officials have been clear that they will continue to support the economy until it is closer to their goals of maximum employment and stable inflation — and that while the situation is improving, it is not there yet.“There are a number of factors that are coming together to support a brighter outlook for the U.S. economy,” Mr. Powell said, noting that tens of millions of Americans are now fully vaccinated, so the economy should be able to fully reopen fairly soon. “The recovery though, here, remains uneven and incomplete.”Employers added more than 900,000 workers to payrolls last month, but the country is still missing millions of jobs compared with February 2020 and fresh data showed that state jobless claims climbed last week. Mr. Powell pointed out that the burden is falling heavily on those least able to bear it: Lower-income service workers, who are heavily minorities and women, have been hit hard by the job losses.When asked what keeps him awake at night, Mr. Powell said that “there’s a pretty substantial tent city” he drives past on his way home from work in Washington. “We just need to keep reminding ourselves that even though some parts of the economy are just doing great, there’s a very large group of people who are not.”Given the pandemic’s role in exacerbating inequality, both Mr. Powell and Ms. Georgieva said it was critical to support workers and make sure they can find their way into new and fitting jobs.The Fed chair said policy tended to focus too much on short-term, palliative measures and not enough on longer-term solutions that help to expand economic possibility.“I think we need to, really as a country — and I’m not talking about any particular bill — invest in things that will increase the inclusiveness of the economy and the longer-term potential of it,” Mr. Powell said. “Particularly invest in people, so that they can take part in, contribute to and benefit from the prosperity of our economy.”Those comments come as the Biden administration is pushing for an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure package that would include provisions for labor market training, technological research and widespread broadband. The administration has proposed paying for the package by raising corporate taxes.“For quite some time, we have been in favor of more investment in infrastructure. It helps to boost productivity here in the United States,” Ms. Georgieva said, calling climate-focused and “social infrastructure” provisions positive. She said they had not had a chance to fully assess the plan, but “broadly speaking, yes, we do support it.”But the White House’s plan has already run into resistance from Republicans and some moderate Democrats, who are wary of raising taxes or engaging in another big spending package after several large stimulus bills.Some commentators have warned that besides expanding the nation’s debt load, the government’s virus spending — particularly the recent $1.9 trillion stimulus package — could cause the economy to overheat. Fed officials have been less worried. “There’s a difference between essentially a one-time increase in prices and persistent inflation,” Mr. Powell said on Thursday. “The nature of a bottleneck is that it will be resolved.”If price gains and inflation expectations moved up “materially,” he said, the Fed would react.“We don’t think that’s the most likely outcome,” he said. More

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    New state unemployment claims rose again last week.

    The job market remains challenging, with the government reporting Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose last week.A total of 741,000 workers filed first-time claims for state jobless benefits last week, an increase of 18,000, the Labor Department said. It was the second consecutive weekly increase after new claims hit a pandemic low.At the same time, 152,000 new claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program covering freelancers, part-timers and others who do not routinely qualify for state benefits. That was a decline of 85,000.Neither figure is seasonally adjusted. Claims rose above one million early in the year but have come down since then, helped by the spread of vaccinations, the easing of restrictions on businesses in many states and the arrival of stimulus funds.Most individuals received payments of $1,400 in recent weeks as part of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion relief package, and the funds should bolster consumer spending in the coming months.On Friday, the government reported that employers added 916,000 jobs in March, twice February’s gain and the most since August. The unemployment rate dipped to 6 percent, the lowest since the pandemic began, with nearly 350,000 people rejoining the labor force.Still, there is plenty of ground to make up.Even after March’s job gains, the economy is 8.4 million jobs short of where it was in February 2020. Entire sectors, like travel and leisure, as well as restaurants and bars, are only beginning to recover from the millions of job losses that followed the pandemic’s arrival. More

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    How the Stimulus Could Power a Rebound in Other Countries

    As Americans buy more, they are expected to spur trade and investment and invigorate demand for German cars, Australian wine, Mexican auto parts and French fashions.Washington’s robust spending in response to the coronavirus crisis is helping to pull the United States out of its sharpest economic slump in decades, funneling trillions of dollars to Americans’ checking accounts and to businesses.Now, the rest of the world is expected to benefit, too.Global forecasters are predicting that the United States and its record-setting stimulus spending could help haul a weakened Europe and struggling developing countries out of their own economic morass, especially when paired with a rapid vaccine rollout that has poised the U.S. economy for a faster recovery.As Americans buy more, they should spur trade and investment and invigorate demand for German cars, Australian wine, Mexican auto parts and French fashions.The anticipated economic rebound in the United States is expected to join China’s recovery, adding impetus to world output. China’s economy is forecast to expand rapidly this year, with the International Monetary Fund predicting 8.1 percent growth. That is good news for countries like Germany, which depends on Chinese demand for cars and machinery.Yet the United States is particularly important to the world economy because it has long spent more than it makes or sells, spreading dollars globally. China is one of the major beneficiaries of Washington’s largess because many Americans have spent their stimulus checks on video game consoles, exercise bicycles or other products made in China.The United States’ comparatively fast recovery was neither guaranteed nor expected: It was the result of a little bit of luck — new variants of the virus that have coursed through other countries have just begun to push infections higher in the United States — and a large policy response, including more than $5 trillion in debt-fueled pandemic relief spending passed into law over the past 12 months. Those trends, paired with the accelerating spread of effective vaccinations, seem likely to leave the American economy in a stronger position.“When the U.S. economy is strong, that strength tends to support global activity as well,” Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said at a recent news conference.A year ago, it was not at all certain that the United States would gain the strength to help lift the global economy.The International Monetary Fund forecast last April that the U.S. economy might expand 4.7 percent this year, roughly in line with forecasts for Europe’s growth, after an expected slump of 5.9 percent in 2020. But the actual contraction in the United States was smaller, and in January, the I.M.F. upgraded the outlook for U.S. growth to 5.1 percent this year, while the euro area’s expected growth was marked down to 4.2 percent.Germany has extended its lockdown to April 18, and there is a good chance restrictions will be extended further.Lena Mucha for The New York TimesSince then, the U.S. government has passed a $1.9 trillion relief package, and the I.M.F. has signaled that the estimates for the country’s growth will be marked up further when it releases fresh forecasts on Tuesday.The recent relief package continues a trend: America has been willing to spend to combat the pandemic’s economic fallout from the start.America’s initial pandemic response spending, amounting to a little less than $3 trillion, was 50 percent larger, as a share of gross domestic product, than what the United Kingdom rolled out, and roughly three times as much as in France, Italy or Spain, based on an analysis by Christina D. Romer at the University of California, Berkeley.Among a set of advanced economies, only New Zealand has borrowed and spent as big a share of its G.D.P. as the United States has, the analysis found.In Europe, where workers in many countries were shielded from job losses and plunging income by government furlough programs, the slow pace of the European Union’s vaccination campaign will probably hurt the economy, said Ludovic Subran, the chief economist of German insurance giant Allianz.On Wednesday, France announced its third national lockdown as infected patients fill its hospitals.Mr. Subran also questioned whether the European Union can distribute stimulus financing fast enough. The money from a 750 billion-euro, or $880 billion, relief program agreed to by European governments in July has been slow to reach the businesses and people who need it because of political squabbling, creaky public administration and a court challenge in Germany.Karen Dynan, a former U.S. Treasury Department chief economist who is now at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, estimated that economic output would take at least a year longer to return to prepandemic levels in Europe than it would in the United States.“Fiscal policy has differed across countries in ways that are really shaping the experience they have now,” Ms. Dynan said.Vaccine supplies are limited in many developing economies, including Venezuela.Ariana Cubillos/Associated PressPoorer and smaller countries, facing severely limited vaccine supplies and fewer resources to support government spending, are likely to struggle to stage an economic turnaround even if the U.S. recovery increases demand for their exports. Places including Venezuela, Iraq and Namibia have administered only about 1 vaccine dose per 1,000 people, if that, based on New York Times data. In the United States, the rate is more than 400 doses per 1,000 people.Still, a booming American economy poses some hazard to other nations — and especially emerging markets — as economic fates diverge.Market-based interest rates in the United States are already climbing, as investors, sensing faster growth and quicker inflation around the corner, decide to sell bonds. That could make financing more expensive around the globe: If investors can earn higher rates on U.S. bonds, they are less likely to invest in foreign debt that offers either lower rates or higher risk.If the United States lures capital away from the rest of the world, “the rose-colored view that we are helping everyone is very much in doubt,” said Robin Brooks, chief economist at the Institute of International Finance.Philip Lane, chief economist of the European Central Bank and a member of the policymaking Governing Council, said the strength of the U.S. economy was generally good news for Europe. But, in an interview on Monday, he warned that rising market interest rates could be a burden for the eurozone economy.Imported goods at a cold storage port in China.Yao Jianfeng/Xinhua, via Associated Press“We do think it’s net positive for the European economy — positive for G.D.P., positive for inflation,” Mr. Lane said of the economic rebound in the United States. “But that’s based on the assumption that the increase in bond yields is very limited.” He noted that bond yields had so far risen faster than expected.Trans-Atlantic trade should get help from warmer relations between the United States and the European Union. The Biden administration has already moved to defuse trade tensions with Europe, which the Trump administration treated as an adversary. President Biden met online with European leaders last week.The U.S. stimulus packages “will be part of the water that lifts all boats,” said Selina Jackson, senior vice president for global government relations and public policy at Procter & Gamble, during a recent panel discussion organized by the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union. “We are hoping for a calm slide out of this economic situation.”Keith Bradsher More

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    Biden Tax Plan Charts New Path to Economic Growth

    The president sees public spending, rather than relying on businesses to turn tax cuts into investment, as the key to competitiveness.President Biden’s ambitious plan to increase corporate taxes does more than just reverse much of the overhaul pushed through by his predecessor. It also offers a profoundly different vision of how to make the United States more competitive and how to foot the bill.When President Donald J. Trump and a Republican Congress rewrote the tax code in 2017, most of the benefits went to the wealthiest Americans, with lower rates on businesses and on profits from investments. The guiding principle, proponents argued, was that cutting taxes on corporations and investors would encourage businesses to expand, creating more jobs and generating more wealth for everyone.By contrast, the animating idea behind the tax plan put forward by the Biden administration on Wednesday is that the best way to increase America’s competitiveness and foster economic growth is to raise corporate taxes to finance huge investments in transportation, broadband, utilities and more.The Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers all welcomed the idea of pumping money into repairing and building the nation’s infrastructure, but recoiled at raising corporate taxes to do so.“We strongly oppose the general tax increases proposed by the administration, which will slow the economic recovery and make the U.S. less competitive globally — the exact opposite of the goals of the infrastructure plan,” the chamber’s chief policy officer, Neil Bradley, said in a statement.The biggest and most eye-catching proposal is to trim the sizable reduction in the corporate tax rate enacted under Mr. Trump. In 2017, Republicans shrank the rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. Mr. Biden wants to nudge the rate part of the way back — to 28 percent.The increase will “ensure that corporations pay their fair share of taxes,” and fund critical investments “to maintain the competitiveness of the United States and grow the economy,” the White House stated in outlining the plan.The other provisions are primarily intended to ensure that multinational corporations cannot avoid taxes on profits generated overseas. The hope is that this will reduce the temptation to set up operations or offices in foreign tax havens.The plan, which still lacks detailed provisions, is “both an undoing and a pushing in new directions,” said Mihir A. Desai, an economist at Harvard Business School. “The more novel aspects relate to how it changes the way we think about foreign operations and global income.”Through a series of complex and arcane provisions, the Biden administration would essentially treat profits earned abroad more like those earned at home — raising rates and requiring that taxes be paid on time rather than pushed far into the future. It would also establish what would in effect be a minimum tax on foreign income.The proposals hew closely to what Mr. Biden promised on the campaign trail, and the immediate reactions mostly fell along predictable lines. Republicans, business groups and conservative economists said they worried that the rate increases would discourage investment. Progressive groups and liberal economists hailed the announcement, saying it would fix some glaring loopholes.Wall Street has been wary of possible tax increases since the presidential election and has hoped that gridlock in Washington would moderate Mr. Biden’s agenda. On Wednesday, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase said the bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, believed that “the corporate tax rate for companies in the U.S. has to be competitive globally, which it is now.”Supporters countered that the changes would do much more to promote growth and go a long way in curbing excesses of the 2017 tax legislation. Democrats have argued that the low-tax approach has failed to deliver broad economic gains, with only those at the very top benefiting. Targeted government spending on workers, students and infrastructure, they argue, would offer much more bang for the buck. What’s more, businesses base their decisions on a range of factors besides tax rates.Even economists favoring low rates on business acknowledge that the 2017 tax cuts did not produce much of an increase in investment. Gross domestic product grew at a rate of 2.4 percent in the two years leading up to the law and 2.4 percent in the two years after it passed.“There’s essentially no evidence that the tax change boosted investment,” said William Gale, co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. He argued that investment went up in 2018 only because oil prices rose. And while the tax law favored investments in equipment and structures, it turned out that the biggest investments were not in those areas but in intellectual capital.Supporters also argue that the proposed changes are much fairer.“The cut in the rate was overdue but may well have been overdone,” Mr. Gale said of the Trump tax cuts. “It gave massive windfall gains to corporations,” rewarding them for investment decisions made in the past instead of providing new incentives to plow money back into their businesses, he said.Debates about the tax code are really debates about who should bear the burden of paying for what society deems important — highways and bridges, clean water and high-speed broadband, basic research and development.By shifting the tax burden, the Biden administration is saying corporations — among the biggest winners the last time around — should pick up more of the tab this time.“We have pressing infrastructure needs, and the fairest way to fund those is to claw back some of the giveaways” to corporations and shareholders contained in the 2017 law, said Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.Mr. Rosenthal also pointed out that a large chunk of the increased tax payments would fall on foreigners, who own 40 percent of stocks.The advertised tax rate — whether on corporations or individuals — is often much higher than what many actually pay.The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which has long criticized American businesses for managing to avoid paying what they owe, conducted a study of Fortune 500 companies that were profitable and that provided enough information to calculate effective tax rates. The institute found that those companies on average paid 11.3 percent on their 2018 income.And 91 of those companies, including Amazon, Chevron, Halliburton and IBM, paid no federal income tax that year.Existing exemptions and deductions are not evenly distributed. Industrial machinery, gas, oil, electric and chemical companies tend to have the lowest effective rates, often less than 5 percent.Economists have debated who actually bears the cost of higher corporate taxes — shareholders and owners or workers. Research by the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury Department and the Brookings Institution has concluded that those who own the business generally pay about three-quarters of a tax increase, with workers picking up the rest.Mr. Desai at Harvard applauded the infrastructure investment but was put off by the impact of the tax increase on workers. “In a populist moment, it’s good politics but bad economics,” he said. He would prefer taxing individuals’ capital income. He also pointed out that the laserlike focus on corporations — as opposed to other businesses that may be organized differently — tended to penalize large successful companies.It is still unclear how much would be paid by other groups favored by the current tax code, including the richest Americans and businesses that pass through income to their owners or shareholders. (They pay taxes at the ordinary rate on their individual returns.)The Biden administration has indicated that tax increases for the wealthy will help fund the second phase of the infrastructure plan, which is expected to be announced next month and will focus on priorities like education, health care and paid leave.Gillian Friedman More

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    Why Finance Gurus Switched Their Bait From Millions to Thousands of Dollars

    Their YouTube videos went from promising proprietary secrets for achieving wealth to any little update on the stimulus. And the viewers came rolling in.“Mark your calendar, there’s a big day coming!” On Jan. 9, with the dream of $2,000 stimulus checks not yet deflated, the Southern California real estate broker Kevin Paffrath uploaded a video to his “Meet Kevin” YouTube channel, updating viewers on the status of the stimulus. Sitting before an array of glowing LED screens and pop-culture paraphernalia (a star from the Super Mario games, Thor’s hammer from the Marvel movies), Paffrath, a wiry white man in his late 20s with a close-cropped beard, leaned into the lights and greeted his viewers. Using the earnest eye contact of a veteran YouTuber, he ran through a summary of the situation: the interests at play in Congress, the details of proposed bills, the tangled qualifications for relief. Out of focus, over his shoulder, the monitors reminded us to visit his “Meet Kevin School” and sign up for courses to “Master Stocks”; at the end of the video, we are invited to “#BecomeMore” through investing, to subscribe to his channel and, of course, to smash that “like” button.This video would be just one of dozens about potential stimulus packages posted that day, even that evening — many of them from finance influencers like Paffrath, whose pitches normally involve real estate, stocks or airline points. A year ago, they were promising to share their proprietary secrets for achieving wealth, staging monologues in the drivers’ seats of luxury cars and poolside on cruise ships. Brian Kim, a Chicago accountant, had previously been explaining tax preparation, including how high-earners could reduce their obligations; Ramy Wahby once raised a complimentary glass of Champagne from a first-class airplane seat and offered to explain how he used airline rewards to get there. Now all that had changed. The thumbnails on their channels may have kept their usual style — buffoonish facial expressions, glaring yellow text — but it was videos about stimulus checks that came to dominate their feeds. They vied for the role of soothsayer before a rapt audience with a seemingly insatiable demand for information about when the government would offer financial relief.Personal-finance influencers turned out to be naturals for this part. They were already performing as the shamans of a core American mythology: that though the world may be divided into haves and have-nots, the only thing standing between you and life among the haves was some arcane savvy. The influencers were exactly like you, they promised; it’s just that they had cracked the code and would, in their magnanimity, break a taboo to share its secrets with you. (Simply sign up for their classes, buy their books and use the appropriate coupon codes at checkout.) Their shift to stimulus content was sudden and significant, but it was merely a change to the type of knowledge in which their enlightened-everyman personas were trained: Instead of decoding real estate or cryptocurrencies, they opined on means-testing and party politics.In Paffrath’s case, stimulus-check updates began doubling his other videos in view counts; one update became the most popular video on his channel, with 1.1 million views. For other finance gurus, these updates took over their output entirely. Their audiences grew dramatically, but the shift required a tacit admission: that the people they had been teasing with paths to affluence had ended up sitting around with everyone else, hoping for a check.Viewer demand didn’t come from upward-bound entrepreneurs after all, it seemed, but rather from those enduring the kind of precarity where the precise timing of a $2,000 deposit could mean keeping the lights on or the difference between housing and eviction. These audiences didn’t want yesterday’s news, or even this morning’s; the slightest budge toward progress was meaningful and welcome. So the output of YouTube updates was relentless: Every hour, a glut of new videos provided the latest on whether relief was coming and how many dollars of it were likely to arrive.The audiences they had been teasing with paths to affluence had ended up sitting around with everyone else, hoping for a check. Paffrath typically uploaded two videos each day. Some content makers uploaded three or more. There was, often, simply not much to say. The key to collecting views was simply to serve as foil to what the audience saw as an infuriating lack of urgency from Congress and the president. The YouTubers tended to mimic the calm, authoritative style of cable-news anchors, but other than reading other peoples’ reporting off printer paper, there was little to do beyond trying to match their viewers’ exasperation. The visuals, comically, featured the same techniques used to press investment schemes: stock images of fanned-out $100 bills and tantalizing click bait like “$4,200 STIMULUS!”Paffrath has a charisma that cuts through all this. He’s exceptionally talented at talking to a camera, a natural salesman. But when he turns to a flowchart breaking down the Biden stimulus proposal, what might even be sincerity leaks out. Judging by the ad hoc community formed in his comments sections, his viewers appreciate it.Then you remember the neon advertisements behind him and the exhortations to go “from $0 to millionaire and beyond.” That Paffrath, a multimillionaire landlord who once extolled the virtues of misleading tenants and vigorously refusing to rent to people with suboptimal credit scores, has come to be an exasperated avatar for emergency economic relief for the neediest — most of whom would be spending it on rent — feels deeply, typically American. A CNBC profile reported that Paffrath actually makes most of his money not from the industry he built his status on, not from investing or even from buying rental properties, but via his audience itself, from his YouTube channel’s advertising revenue and affiliate programs..css-yoay6m{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-yoay6m{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1dg6kl4{margin-top:5px;margin-bottom:15px;}.css-k59gj9{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;width:100%;}.css-1e2usoh{font-family:inherit;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;border-top:1px solid #ccc;padding:10px 0px 10px 0px;background-color:#fff;}.css-1jz6h6z{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;text-align:left;}.css-1t412wb{box-sizing:border-box;margin:8px 15px 0px 15px;cursor:pointer;}.css-hhzar2{-webkit-transition:-webkit-transform ease 0.5s;-webkit-transition:transform ease 0.5s;transition:transform ease 0.5s;}.css-t54hv4{-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-1r2j9qz{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-e1ipqs{font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;padding:0px 30px 0px 0px;}.css-e1ipqs a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-e1ipqs a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1o76pdf{visibility:show;height:100%;padding-bottom:20px;}.css-1sw9s96{visibility:hidden;height:0px;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}.css-1cz6wm{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;font-family:’nyt-franklin’,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;text-align:left;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1cz6wm{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-1cz6wm:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1cz6wm{border:none;padding:20px 0 0;border-top:1px solid #121212;}Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus PackageThe stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more. Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read moreThis credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.This confluence of the sincere and the cynical recurs constantly in stimulus-check YouTube. It serves a uniquely American need: Even at the height of desperation, nothing can ever dispel the mirage that riches are available to anyone with the work ethic and (if you insist) a little savvy. In the days leading up to the relief bill becoming law, Paffrath’s stimulus content remained his most popular product; soon he was posting videos calming those members of his audience for whom the $1,400 deposit had not yet arrived. Can the path forward for someone like Paffrath really lead back to making videos from the driver’s seat of a Tesla, promising to make viewers rich? Or will what he has seen during this stint — months of tending to a public desperate for news of a couple thousand dollars — open his eyes to the possibility of being just another rich person hustling the poor?Adlan Jackson is a writer from Kingston, Jamaica, who writes about music in New York. This is his first article for the magazine. Source photographs: Screen grabs from YouTube More

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    Biden Administration Faces Legal Fight Over State Aid Restrictions on Tax Cuts

    The litigation came amid growing pushback from Republican lawmakers and state officials to a provision in the relief package that the Treasury Department said was constitutional.WASHINGTON — State backlash against a restriction in the $1.9 trillion economic relief legislation that prohibits local governments from using aid money to cut taxes emerged as the Biden administration’s first major legal battle on Wednesday, as Ohio sued to block the provision and other states considered similar action.The litigation came amid growing pushback from Republican lawmakers and state officials, who say that the strings attached to the Covid relief money are a violation of state sovereignty and that imposing tax cut restrictions is an infringement on a state’s right to set its own fiscal policies.On Tuesday, 21 Republican attorneys general wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen seeking clarity on the portion of the law that prevents them from using the federal funds “to either directly or indirectly offset a reduction in the net tax revenue” resulting from state tax cuts.The attorneys general called the provision “the greatest attempted invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic.”But the Biden administration showed no signs of backing down, saying on Wednesday that the restriction on how states can use their federal funds is constitutional and that those governments should not use stimulus money meant to combat the coronavirus crisis to subsidize tax cuts.The fight could slow the rollout of more than $200 billion in relief funds that states are expected to receive to help cover Covid-related costs, including money for schools and infrastructure investments.States, which are expected to share $220 billion worth of stimulus funds, are anxiously awaiting guidance about whether the restrictions apply to the use of federal dollars to offset new tax cuts, or if it blocks them from cutting taxes for any reason, even if the cuts were in the works before the law passed.In a court filing on Wednesday, Dave Yost, Ohio’s attorney general, sought a preliminary injunction that would bar the federal government’s ability to enforce what he described as the “tax mandate.”“The federal government should be encouraging states to innovate and grow business, not holding vital relief funding hostage to its preferred pro-tax policies,” Mr. Yost, a Republican, said in a statement.Ohio is expected to receive $5.5 billion in federal relief funds. Mr. Yost said that states should not have to choose between accepting the money and maintaining their rights to cut taxes.But the Treasury Department said on Wednesday that if a state that took relief money cuts taxes, that state must repay the amount of lost revenue from those cuts to the federal government.“It is well established that Congress may establish reasonable conditions on how states should use federal funding that the states are provided,” said Alexandra LaManna, a Treasury spokeswoman. “Those sorts of reasonable funding conditions are used all the time — and they are constitutional.”She added that the new law “provided funds to help states manage the economic consequences of Covid-19, and gave states flexibility to use that money for pandemic relief and infrastructure investments.”.css-yoay6m{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-yoay6m{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1dg6kl4{margin-top:5px;margin-bottom:15px;}.css-k59gj9{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;width:100%;}.css-1e2usoh{font-family:inherit;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;border-top:1px solid #ccc;padding:10px 0px 10px 0px;background-color:#fff;}.css-1jz6h6z{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;text-align:left;}.css-1t412wb{box-sizing:border-box;margin:8px 15px 0px 15px;cursor:pointer;}.css-hhzar2{-webkit-transition:-webkit-transform ease 0.5s;-webkit-transition:transform ease 0.5s;transition:transform ease 0.5s;}.css-t54hv4{-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-1r2j9qz{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-e1ipqs{font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;padding:0px 30px 0px 0px;}.css-e1ipqs a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-e1ipqs a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1o76pdf{visibility:show;height:100%;padding-bottom:20px;}.css-1sw9s96{visibility:hidden;height:0px;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}.css-1cz6wm{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;font-family:’nyt-franklin’,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;text-align:left;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1cz6wm{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-1cz6wm:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1cz6wm{border:none;padding:20px 0 0;border-top:1px solid #121212;}Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus PackageThe stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more. Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read moreThis credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.The Treasury Department rejected the idea that the provision, which was added to the relief legislation at the last minute, was prohibiting states from cutting taxes. States are free to decline the federal funds, or they can repay the money if they are in fiscal shape to cut taxes.“The law does not say that states cannot cut taxes at all, and it does not say that if a state cut taxes, it must pay back all of the federal funding it received,” Ms. LaManna said. “It simply instructed them not to use that money to offset net revenues lost if the state chooses to cut taxes. So if a state does cut taxes without replacing that revenue in some other way, then the state must pay back to the federal government pandemic relief funds up to the amount of the lost revenue.”The amount of aid that a state will receive is tied to its jobless rate, and there are strict requirements to ensure that the money is used for purposes related to the coronavirus or to offset revenues that have been lost because of the health crisis. The Treasury Department plans to closely scrutinize how the money is spent.In their letter to Ms. Yellen, the attorneys general said that if they did not receive a formal response by March 23, they would take “appropriate additional action.”More lawsuits could soon follow. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia said such action would include seeking a court ruling “that the unprecedented and micromanaging provision violates the U.S. Constitution.”At a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Morrisey said he had been working on a draft of a complaint. He has been talking to other states about the mechanics of the legal challenge and where it should be filed.“There are huge legal and constitutional problems with this provision,” Mr. Morrisey said. “This may be one of the greatest attempted invasions of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic.” More

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    Biden, Pitching Stimulus, Promises Milestones for Covid-19 Vaccines and Checks

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }Biden’s Stimulus PlanBiden’s AddressWhat to Know About the BillAnalysis: Economic RescueBenefits for Middle ClassAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyBiden, Pitching Stimulus, Promises Milestones for Vaccines and ChecksThe president kicked off a week of events to promote his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan by appointing Gene Sperling, a longtime Democratic aide, to oversee spending under the bill.“The American Rescue Plan is already doing what it was designed to do: make a difference in people’s everyday lives,” President Biden said in a brief address from the White House on Monday.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesJim Tankersley and March 15, 2021Updated 8:23 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — President Biden said on Monday that his administration was on pace to achieve two key goals by March 25: 100 million shots of Covid-19 vaccines since his inauguration and 100 million direct payments under his economic relief bill.The announcement was the first in what promises to be a series of end-zone dances that Mr. Biden and administration officials are set to stage this week as they promote the $1.9 trillion package that the president signed into law last week.“Shots in arms and money in pockets. That’s important,” Mr. Biden said in a brief address from the White House. “The American Rescue Plan is already doing what it was designed to do: make a difference in people’s everyday lives.”Over the weekend, the Treasury Department began issuing direct electronic payments of $1,400 per person, as authorized by the law, to low- and middle-income Americans. The United States has administered 92.6 million vaccine doses since Jan. 20, when Mr. Biden took office, according to data released on Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the current pace of vaccinations, the country will pass 100 million doses before the end of the week, well ahead of the president’s promise of March 25.Mr. Biden had set the goal of 100 million doses before taking office, and he has repeatedly heralded the country being on pace to meet it, though many public health experts say it is relatively easily attainable.The relief plan also includes dozens of other provisions that have yet to be carried out, such as new monthly checks for parents, $350 billion for state and local governments and additional relief for the unemployed.With so much money at stake and Republicans criticizing the package as wasteful, Mr. Biden vowed to bring “fastidious oversight” to the relief bill in order to ensure that it is distributed quickly and equitably.He introduced Gene Sperling, a longtime Democratic policy aide who advised Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign last year, as his pick to oversee spending from the relief package. Mr. Sperling will be a senior adviser to the president and a White House employee, operating independently from an oversight commission established by Congress during the pandemic that consists of inspectors general from various agencies.“We have to prove to the American people that their government can deliver for them, and do it without waste or fraud,” Mr. Biden said.His remarks came as his team prepared to fan out across the country for a week of sales pitches for a bill that has proved very popular with voters but garnered zero Republican votes.Mr. Biden will visit Delaware County, Pa., on Tuesday and appear with Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday in Atlanta, which helped deliver Democrats the Senate majority that made the relief plan possible.A group of administration officials, including the first lady, Jill Biden, and Ms. Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, will make their own trips. Ms. Harris and her husband landed in Las Vegas for an event on Monday afternoon, while Dr. Biden finished an event in New Jersey.The road show is an effort to avoid the messaging mistakes of President Barack Obama’s administration, which Democrats believe failed to continue vocally building support for his $780 billion stimulus act after it passed in 2009. The challenge for the Biden administration will be to highlight less obvious provisions, including the largest federal infusion in generations of aid to the poor, a substantial expansion of the child tax credit and increased subsidies for health insurance.Mr. Sperling’s challenge will be to meet Mr. Biden’s promises of transparency and accountability for those programs.The president and White House officials called Mr. Sperling well qualified for the task. He was the director of the National Economic Council under Mr. Obama and President Bill Clinton. In the Obama administration, where he first served as a counselor in the Treasury Department, Mr. Sperling helped to coordinate a bailout of Detroit automakers and other parts of the administration’s response to the 2008 financial crisis..css-yoay6m{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-yoay6m{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1dg6kl4{margin-top:5px;margin-bottom:15px;}.css-k59gj9{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;width:100%;}.css-1e2usoh{font-family:inherit;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;border-top:1px solid #ccc;padding:10px 0px 10px 0px;background-color:#fff;}.css-1jz6h6z{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;text-align:left;}.css-1t412wb{box-sizing:border-box;margin:8px 15px 0px 15px;cursor:pointer;}.css-hhzar2{-webkit-transition:-webkit-transform ease 0.5s;-webkit-transition:transform ease 0.5s;transition:transform ease 0.5s;}.css-t54hv4{-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-1r2j9qz{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-e1ipqs{font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;padding:0px 30px 0px 0px;}.css-e1ipqs a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-e1ipqs a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1o76pdf{visibility:show;height:100%;padding-bottom:20px;}.css-1sw9s96{visibility:hidden;height:0px;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}.css-1cz6wm{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;font-family:’nyt-franklin’,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;text-align:left;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1cz6wm{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-1cz6wm:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1cz6wm{border:none;padding:20px 0 0;border-top:1px solid #121212;}Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus PackageThe stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more. Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read moreThis credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.He advised Mr. Biden’s campaign informally in 2020, helping to hone the campaign’s “Build Back Better” policy agenda. Friends have described Mr. Sperling in recent months as eager to join the administration; he had been mentioned as a possible appointee to lead the Office of Management and Budget after Mr. Biden’s first nominee for that position, Neera Tanden, withdrew amid Senate opposition.Mr. Sperling’s challenge with the rescue plan will be different than the one Mr. Biden faced in 2009, because the relief bill differs starkly from Mr. Obama’s signature stimulus plan. The Biden plan is more than twice as large as Mr. Obama’s. It includes money meant to hasten the end of the pandemic, including billions for vaccine deployment and coronavirus testing. The plans also have similarities, including more than $400 billion each in total spending for school districts and state and local governments.Oversight of the $1.9 trillion relief legislation is currently expected to rely on the byzantine oversight architecture that was established in the stimulus packages Congress passed last year.The new effort will continue to rely on the Government Accountability Office and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a panel of inspectors general from across the federal government.Less clear is the fate of the Congressional Oversight Commission, the five-person bipartisan panel that was created to oversee the $500 billion Treasury Department fund that supported the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs and loans to airlines and companies that are critical to national security. The commission currently has only three members, and the Fed programs concluded at the end of last year.The commission’s report in January said that it planned to continue “analyzing loans, loan guarantees and investments that were made prior to program termination” and producing reports.It is not clear if the existing mechanisms will be sufficient for overseeing the money in the new relief package, which will pump billions of dollars into states and cities. Additional oversight measures are likely to be needed.A Treasury official said that the department would set up a process to monitor the use of funds that are being sent to states to ensure that they are used according to the eligibility requirements in the law.Like many Americans in the pandemic, Mr. Sperling will have to coordinate and navigate those efforts virtually, at least at first. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that Mr. Sperling would work remotely from his home in California until he is vaccinated.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More