On The Money: House Democrats express alarm over slow stimulus checks | Yellen tamps down on debt concerns | Megan Rapinoe visits White House for Equal Pay Day

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to On The Money, where we’re wondering how many of our readers are secret Grape Nuts devotees . I’m Sylv...


Happy Wednesday and welcome back to On The Money, where we’re wondering how many of our readers are secret Grape Nuts devotees. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—House Democrats express alarm over slow stimulus checks

House Democrats are expressing alarm that many people who are elderly, disabled or veterans are facing delays in receiving the $1,400 stimulus checks as part of the most recent COVID-19 relief package. 

The snag: 

  • Many people who receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement Board or Veterans Affairs benefits — and don’t have to file tax returns — still haven’t gotten their third stimulus checks nearly two weeks after Biden signed the legislation.
  • Senior members of the House Ways and Means Committee pressed the heads of the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA) to offer a timeline this week and are blaming the SSA for the holdup

“We demand that you immediately provide the IRS with this information by tomorrow,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealHouse Democrats demand answers on slow ,400 checks On The Money: IRS plans to extend tax filing deadline to mid-May | Powell voices cautious optimism | Treasury has sent out 90 million stimulus payments IRS plans to extend tax filing deadline to mid-May MORE (D-Mass.) and Reps. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellHouse Democrats demand answers on slow ,400 checks IRS extension leaves other headaches to solve On The Money: IRS plans to extend tax filing deadline to mid-May | Powell voices cautious optimism | Treasury has sent out 90 million stimulus payments MORE (D-N.J.), John Larson John Barry LarsonHouse Democrats demand answers on slow ,400 checks Romney’s TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors’ benefits COVID-19 damage to Social Security to extend beyond pandemic MORE (D-Conn.) and Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) wrote in a letter Wednesday to SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul.

The Hill’s Cristina Marcos explains here.

What’s taking so long? Lawmakers say the delays with getting checks to the low-income government assistance beneficiaries has been slower compared to the previous round of direct payments in December. 

“These are some of our most vulnerable neighbors,” Pascrell said. “They’re the ones that are getting shafted because government agencies are not doing what they’re supposed to do.”

What the Treasury Department is saying about it: Not much. In a Wednesday update on the total number of stimulus checks sent out, Treasury said it was working with government agencies to obtain the income data they need to send those checks.

The department has already disbursed 127 million economic relief payments worth $325 billion authorized by the massive COVID-19 aid bill.

I’ve got more on that here.

Breaking — SSA responds: “Social Security staff is working day and night with Treasury and IRS representatives to ensure that the electronic file of Social Security and SSI recipients is complete, accurate, and ready to be used to issue payments,” said SSA spokesperson Mark Hinkle in a statement late Wednesday.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Yellen: US has space to spend despite rising debt: Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden leans heavily into gun control On The Money: Yellen defends raising taxes ‘in a fair way’ to fund infrastructure plan | Senate confirms Young as deputy budget director | Fed creates climate financial risk panel Fed to form committee focused on climate risks to financial system MORE expressed confidence Wednesday that the U.S. has enough fiscal space to cover trillions more in spending on investments in the U.S. economy but said the federal government would eventually need to pare down the mounting debt.

In testimony before a Senate panel, Yellen said that she believes the U.S. can afford to invest trillions in projects meant to boost productivity despite the national debt exceeding historic highs, thanks to years of low borrowing costs.

“My views on the amount of fiscal space that the United States, I would say, have changed somewhat since 2017,” Yellen said, when asked about previous comments about the national debt. “Interest payments on that debt relative to GDP have not gone up at all, and so I think that’s a more meaningful metric of the burden of the debt on society and on the federal finances.”

I have more here.

The background:  Yellen’s comments come as the Biden administration prepares to propose roughly $3 trillion in spending on infrastructure, green energy, climate resilience and job training, likely financed in part by tax increases for corporate income, high-earning households and financial asset sales.

Other highlights from Yellen’s testimony: 

 

Megan Rapinoe visits White House to mark Equal Pay Day

U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who famously said she wouldn’t visit the Trump White House, attended an event marking Equal Pay Day on Wednesday with President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden leans heavily into gun control Justice Dept. faces risks, rewards with riot sedition charges Dems plan to squeeze GOP over filibuster MORE and other members of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT).

  • Equal Pay Day marks the date each year to which women must work to make the same pay that men made the year before.
  • Rapinoe said that despite the success she has achieved with USWNT, she has been devalued because of her gender.

“I’ve been devalued, I’ve been disrespected, and dismissed because I am a woman. And I’ve been told that I don’t deserve any more than less, because I am a woman,” Rapinoe said.

The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant takes us to the White House.

What Biden plans to do about the pay gap: Biden pledged to fight to end the gender pay gap, urging Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. The House passed the bill nearly a year ago but it was not advanced in the Senate. 

Biden also reflected on the disproportionate effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on women in the workforce. He said more than 2 million women dropped out of the workforce since the pandemic began, marking the lowest percent of women participation in the labor force in more than 30 years.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW:

  • The Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing entitled “American Rescue Plan: Shots in Arms and Money in Pockets” at 10 a.m.
  • Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida discusses the economic outlook at the Institute of International Finance Washington Policy Summit at 1:15 p.m.
  • The Senate Budget Committee holds a hearing entitled “Ending a Rigged Tax Code: The Need To Make the Wealthiest People and Largest Corporations Pay their Fair Share of Taxes” at 11 a.m.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will convene an interagency panel of financial regulators to discuss climate change and how certain investment funds handled the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adopted a measure designed for stricter regulation of Chinese firms from U.S. stock exchanges.
  • The CEOs of the country’s biggest social media platforms will testify Thursday before a Congress eager to press them on their roles spreading misinformation related to coronavirus and the leadup to the deadly insurrection at the Capitol in January.
  • Orders for U.S. manufactured goods experienced a drop in February following nine months of growth, according to a Wednesday report from the Department of Commerce. 

 

ODDS AND ENDS



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