CHICAGO (CBS) — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday was expected to approve a stimulus package of more than $2 trillion.
It includes a direct cash payment of up to $1,200 for most working Americans – $3,000 for the average family.
The payments phase out for people who make more than $75,000, and those who make more than $99,000 do not get any money.
The package also expands unemployment insurance from 26 to 39 weeks for most people.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole on Wednesday spoke to two Chicagoans who say this help can’t come soon enough.
The idea is to get help to Main Street, shuttered businesses, and laid off workers. A lot of folks are so numb from the economic downturn that it’s hard to process it.
Merz Apothecary at 4716 N. Lincoln Ave., which sells and delivers health and pharmaceutical goods, is still operating. But it’s not business as usual.
“We did have to furlough people, but we are treating it as temporary,” said Anthony Qaiyum, the owner of Merz Apothecary.
Qaiyum reluctantly had to scale back on a quarter of his 40-person staff, in an effort to keep the business strong enough for workers to return.
“We tried to do things to take care of people’s health insurance and give them some buffer,” he said.
With businesses on Main Streets struggling or shuttered altogether, the government’s stimulus package provides $350 billion in small business loans.
Still, Qaiyum recognizes aid needs to be more personal for more Americans.
“My feeling is an injection of money to real people – not tax cuts to businesses – actual money given to people so they can survive,” he said.
Brian Newman of Gurnee lost his restaurant food sales job last week.
“It’s always nervous when you are without a job,” he said.
The married father is raising twins at home. The stimulus package would see his unemployment extended to four months, a relief.
“Both incomes are needed to make things work out for us,” Newman said.
Newman’s s family could also be eligible for direct payments – $1,200 to individuals, $2,400 to married couples, and $500 for each minor child.
“I think that’s going to be an immeasurable help for people in a situation like mine and the economy as a whole,” Newman said.
But Newman was not confident that he could quickly access the aid being offered.
“Quite frankly, I think figuring it out will take several weeks,” he said.
Indeed, the big X factor is how long it will take for the stimulus money to hit individual Americans’ accounts. We checked with our representatives in the U.S. House and Senate, and they said all the particulars are still being worked out.
Washington is hopeful that the money can be given to individual Americans by early April, but those on the outside looking in say it could take as long as early June.
But even with the issue of payments and how to receive them still being ironed out, help can’t come fast enough.