The Week in Business: The Bitter End
Goodbye 2020 and good deliverance. Here’s what you need to know about business and tech for the coming week, but above all, cheers for a better 2021. Please usher in the new year safely. – Charlotte Cowles
How are you? (December 20th to 26th)
Down to the line
After a nine-month stalemate, Congress finally managed to pass a much-anticipated (and much-needed) pandemic relief package worth $ 900 billion. Then President Trump got interested in the bill at the last minute and didn’t like what he saw (“a shame”). Before he went on vacation, he called for legislation to allow direct stimulus payments of $ 2,000 for most Americans, not $ 600 as the bill says. The Democrats were more than happy to accept the change, but the Republicans blocked the move and suspended the relief bill. This is bad news for anyone who depends on the funds available, the last of which are running out this week.
That other public health emergency
The Justice Department has not finished pointing fingers at those who purposely ignored the red flags that led to the opioid crisis. For the past week, it accused Walmart of looking the other way while its pharmacies filled thousands of suspicious opioid prescriptions. The civil lawsuit alleges that Walmart also ignored reports from its pharmacy workers who warned their superiors that certain prescriptions looked rotten. Walmart denied the allegations on the grounds that the Justice Department had put retailers in the unfair position of having to “retrospectively guess” doctors’ decisions.
Well, that’s awkward: the Russian hackers who infiltrated U.S. government networks managed to breach the email system used by senior Treasury officials in July without anyone noticing until recently . The same hackers also infiltrated hundreds of U.S. organizations, including Cisco, Intel, Nvidia, Deloitte, and the California Department of State Hospitals. Investigators still do not know whether the cyber attack compromised classified information. But one thing certainly doesn’t help: Mr. Trump has refused to acknowledge Russia’s involvement and is instead trying to blame China. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. accused Mr. Trump of irrationally downplaying the attack – which will become his problem in January.
What’s next? (December 27th – January 2nd)
Up to the wire II
Britain and the European Union finally reached a highly competitive trade deal on Christmas Eve that squeaked under its deadline and sparked a bitter Brexit battle that has plagued the bloc for over four years. However, the agreement has yet to be ratified, and trade in the region continues to face serious upheaval. Last week, British officials discovered a new mutation in the coronavirus that is potentially up to 70 percent more contagious. Dozens of countries blocked travelers from the UK to prevent the spread. The bans forced thousands of trucks (and their drivers) to sit in huge traffic jams in UK ports for days while perishable exports were tainted. Customs officials are starting to let trucks through, but the new trade deal won’t speed up the process.
The second stimulus
Answers to your questions about the stimulus calculation
Updated December 23, 2020
Legislators agreed to a plan to provide $ 600 stimulus payments and distribute $ 300 federal unemployment benefits for 11 weeks. Here you can find out more about the bill and what’s in it for you.
- Do I get another incentive payment? Individual adults with adjusted gross income on their 2019 tax returns of up to $ 75,000 per year would receive a payment of $ 600, and heads of household up to $ 112,500 and a couple (or someone whose spouse died in 2020) would receive up to to earn $ 150,000 per year Get double the amount. If they have dependent children, they will also receive $ 600 for each child. People with incomes just above this level would receive a partial payment that decreases by $ 5 for every $ 100 of income.
- When could my payment arrive? Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he expected the first payments to be made before the end of the year. However, it will take a while for everyone to receive their money.
- Does the agreement concern unemployment insurance? Legislators agreed to extend the length of time people can receive unemployment benefits and restart an additional federal benefit that is on top of the usual state benefits. But instead of $ 600 a week it would be $ 300. That would take until March 14th.
- I am behind on my rent or expect to be soon. Do I get relief? The deal would provide $ 25 billion to be distributed through state and local governments to help backward tenants. In order to receive support, households would have to meet various conditions: the household income (for 2020) must not exceed 80 percent of the regional median income; At least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or residential instability. and individuals must be eligible for unemployment benefits or face direct or indirect financial difficulties due to the pandemic. The agreement states that priority will be given to support for lower-income families who have been unemployed for three months or more.
Who gets a shot
You may have seen your first “vaxxies” – photos people take of themselves to get a coronavirus vaccine, of course, and then post them on social media. The country has already distributed over a million doses to healthcare workers, but who’s next? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that priority should be given to around 30 million frontline essential workers such as rescue workers, teachers and grocery store workers, and those aged 75 and over. But “essential” is hard to define, and now Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart are all battling to get their employees to get this classification and are coming out on top.
In the restaurant business, tips play an important role in how servers and bartenders make money. However, a new rule from the Department of Labor is that restaurants can require employees to pool their tips and share them with the broader staff, including back-of-house employees who don’t normally see that money. There are a few parameters: Servers can only be asked to exchange tips if they are receiving the standard minimum wage in their city or state, not the lower minimum wage that most states allow employers to tip. The rule, which could be adjusted or blocked by the Biden administration before it takes effect, also prohibits supervisors, managers and property owners from delving into the tip themselves. No matter what, consider this as a reminder not to be stingy with tips, especially these days.