About 130 million letters signed by President Donald Trump have been mailed or are on their way to taxpayers who have received federal stimulus checks. Intended as notices to inform people about the one-time payments, the letters include Mr. Trump's distinctive signature — and effusive praise for the U.S. government's efforts to help struggling Americans.
Addressed to "my fellow American," each letter informs the recipient about the amount of money they received and whether it was delivered by direct deposit to their bank account or mailed as a paper check. The flip side of the letter includes the same message in Spanish.
The stimulus payments, authorized under the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, are intended to offer a financial lifeline as the U.S. reels under the impact of the pandemic. The economy shrank nearly of the year — the sharpest drop since the fourth quarter of 2008 during the global financial crisis.
Single workers who earn less than $75,000 will receive $1,200, and married couples earning less than $150,000 get $2,400. Each child under 17 receives $500.
"As we wage total war on this invisible enemy, we are also working around the clock to protect hardworking Americans like you from the consequences of the economic shutdown," Mr. Trump wrote in the letter. Along with praise for Congress for passing the CARES Act, Mr. Trump noted that he "proudly" signed it into law.
The CARES Act requires that a notice identifying the amount and form of the stimulus payment must be sent to each taxpayer who receives a check within 15 days of the payment, according to a Treasury Department spokeswoman. About 130 million stimulus payments have already been sent to taxpayers, according to the agency.
The letter from Mr. Trump "serves as notice of the payment, and as a message from the president during these unprecedented times," the spokeswoman told CBS MoneyWatch. "As the president indicated during the White House briefing last Friday, the Treasury Department sent the letter from him."
The president's name will also appear in the memo line on the left side of the printed checks, which are scheduled to be mailed starting early next month. Although similar stimulus payments were made under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, those checks didn't bear the name of the president at the time.
"Waste of money"
While the letter is required under the CARES Act, it's rubbing some taxpayers the wrong way. "What a complete waste of money. How much did it cost to send this out first class mail? Good for the post office. Waste of money for taxpayers," wrote Jeffrey Hoyle in an email to CBS News about his reaction to receiving the letter.
It also comes as some taxpayers are still awaiting their checks and struggling with the loss of jobs and income. About one in six workersin the past six weeks due to widespread "stay at home" orders. Meanwhile, 4 in 10 of Americans whose work was affected by the pandemic said they , such as paying their rent or mortgage, according to a survey this week.