Next week, many Americans will start receiving a $600 stimulus check after the Senate passed a COVID relief bill Monday night. The bill includes the payments and short-term unemployment benefits — and the jokes about it are dark.
The $900 billion package comes at the end of a disastrous year that saw the pandemic result in millions of people losing their jobs and fall into poverty, hundreds of thousands of businesses close, and over 300,000 Americans die.
The new coronavirus aid package is much smaller than the original CARES Act passed in March. The two parties were deadlocked for most of this year in negotiations until Democratic leaders caved earlier this month and halved their demands.
The new deal includes an increase in federal unemployment and the continuation of certain wage protection programs, but a lot of the focus is on the stimulus checks, which are half the amount given in March.
Adults earning under $75,000 will receive the full $600, with an additional $600 for each child under age 17. Couples who earn under $150,000 will receive $1,200.
Individuals who earn over $75,000 but less than $87,000 will receive a partial, scaled amount of the $600, while those who earn more than $87,000 will receive nothing.
“The good news is this is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday.
Except, after months of reduced unemployment and no other direct cash bailout for individuals since March, people are noting that $600 doesn’t get you very far.
The checks arrive next week, but the memes are here already, including a lot of “omg just got my stimulus check!!” tweets, along with the saddest images possible.