The global COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating economic effects, problems that would’ve been almost unimaginable two years ago. It’s closed countless businesses. In 2020, it sent the American unemployment rate skyrocketing to levels rivaling the Great Depression. And, between April and June 2020, the U.S. economy shrunk more than 31 percent, a staggering statistic.
So far, the U.S. government has approved sending out three separate stimulus checks as emergency aid for struggling Americans. However, in Congress, dozens of lawmakers are now advocating for more payments.Read More »
However, can this idea gain enough traction to become reality? Right now, the answer appears to be no.
The First Three Stimulus Checks
The federal government is currently sending out the third set of stimulus checks. For many people, of course, they’re electronic payments. These $1,400 sums are mandated by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Congress passed this $1.9 trillion bill in March, and President Joe Biden signed it into law.
Those who qualify for these checks include:
• Single individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 per year or less.
• Married couples who file their taxes jointly and earn a combined annual income of $150,000 or less.
• Household heads who earn $112,500 or less each year.
In addition, Congress and former President Donald Trump authorized stimulus payments of $1,200 in March 2020 and $600 in December 2020.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics studied how Americans utilized their first stimulus checks. Paying rent, buying food and other groceries, saving the money, making investments, and purchasing life insurance were among the top responses.
Pushing for Multiple New Payments
In January 2021, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, led a group of more than 50 House Democrats in arguing for recurring stimulus checks. They sent a letter to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to make this case.
These legislators asked for equal and direct payments to eligible adults and their dependents, including elderly dependents, until the economy is healthy again. In a tweet, Rep. Omar recommended checks of $2,000 per month, but the group didn’t specify an amount in their letter.
These Democrats also requested that “those who need it most” receive the checks first. As a result, the payments would boost the economy more effectively. After all, those who really need the aid would probably spend that money right away. They’d be less likely to save it. Thus, that money would go straight to American businesses, ending the recession faster.
At least 11 Democratic senators likewise support recurring stimulus checks. This group sent their own letter to President Biden to ask for such payments. However, the president has not endorsed this idea publicly.
The Diminishing Chances of Another Stimulus Check
By all outward appearances, the federal government is finished issuing stimulus checks in 2021. There are three major reasons why.
First, it’s doubtful that enough Republicans — or any Republicans — would back a fourth payment. In fact, no Republican voted for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Therefore, Democrats passed it through reconciliation, a parliamentary spending procedure that can’t be employed more than once in a fiscal year.
Some Democrats might oppose a fourth check as well.
Second, the Biden White House seems to be focused on other legislative goals in areas like infrastructure and energy. And those plans could cost trillions of dollars. Thus, members of this administration probably don’t want to spend any more time, money, or political capital on COVID relief efforts.
Third, vaccinations are now proceeding at a steady clip. And, with increasing vaccine supplies, that pace should speed up. There’s a chance that life and the economy will be largely back to normal by the fall. With that in mind, many politicians view another stimulus package as unnecessary.
Hopefully, those predictions are correct. COVID will soon dissipate; the unemployment rate will drop precipitously, and many people will regain their steady income. Until then, though, they may have to stretch that recent $1,400 check as far as they can.
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