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On The Money: House panel advances portion of relief package that includes $1,400 checks | Study: Boosted jobless benefits did little to discourage unemployed from finding jobs

On The Money: House panel advances portion of relief package that includes $1,400 checks | Study: Boosted jobless benefits did little to discourage unemployed from finding jobs
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Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. 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 panel advances portion of relief package that includes $1,400 checks: The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday advanced a key portion of Democrats’ coronavirus relief package that includes stimulus payments of up to $1,400 per person and an expansion of the child tax credit.

The tax-focused portion of the bill that the Ways and Means Committee advanced on Thursday contains some of the provisions in the bill that have received the most attention from lawmakers and members of the public.

  • The measure proposes direct payments of up to $1,400 per person, including adult dependents such as college students and elderly parents, who were not eligible for the first two rounds of payments.
  • The bill includes the same income limits for receiving full payment amounts as the first two rounds, but changes how the payment amounts would phase out above those thresholds in an effort to prevent high-income households from getting the payments.
  • Individuals with income above $100,000 and couples with income above $200,000 would not be eligible for payments.

Another provision in the measure would expand the child tax credit for 2021 from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for older children. The credit would also become fully refundable, allowing the lowest-income households to receive the full payment amounts. 

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda has more here.

LEADING THE DAY

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Boosted jobless benefits did little to discourage workers from seeking jobs: The $600 weekly boost to jobless benefits included in the CARES Act did little to discourage the unemployed from attempting to return to work, according to a study released Thursday by the JPMorgan Chase Research Institute.

  • Just 3.7 percent of people who returned to work after the $600 boost expired likely did so because they’d be receiving less money in jobless benefits, the researchers said. 
  • More than half of workers who received the $600 weekly boost returned to work before it expired, raising further doubts that the extra benefit convinced people to stay unemployed, a common statement by some critics of the increased aid.

“We find that the $600 supplement likely played little role in discouraging people from finding work. Rather, expanded UI boosted the spending and saving among jobless workers, many of whom are facing extended or repeated unemployment spells,” the researchers wrote.

I break down the findings here.

Why it’s notable: The JPMorgan study contradicts concerns expressed by some Republican lawmakers that higher unemployment benefits would dissuade people from returning to work during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Deep damage: The labor market is also still incredibly weak due to the pandemic, with weekly jobless claims totaling 793,000 during the first week of February.

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While claims fell by 19,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 812,000, the total number of weekly jobless claims filed in the final week of January was initially reported at 779,000, 33,500 fewer than the revised total.

break down the data here.

Justice Department reportedly opens probe into GameStop trades: The Department of Justice has reportedly opened an investigation into whether market manipulation was behind the enormous rise in stock value for companies like GameStop and AMC Theatres in January.

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed information regarding the topic, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the investigation.

The Journal reported that both the Justice Department’s fraud division and the San Francisco U.S. attorney's office are seeking information from brokers and social media companies, and have subpoenaed brokers from the stock trading app Robinhood.

The Hill’s Joseph Choi brings us up to speed.

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS

  • The oldest bank in America, Bank of New York Mellon, said Thursday that it will now hold bitcoin for its clients.
  • Microsoft on Thursday urged the U.S. government to adopt a law similar to a controversial Australian proposal that would require tech giants to pay publishers for news.