CORONAVIRUS USA

Second stimulus check: Trump says a second package will come "very soon"

The first stimulus checks began to be issued some months ago under the provision of the CARES Act and further help is close according to the president.

Second stimulus check: Trump says a second package will come "very soon"
Yuri Gripas / POOL EFE

Back in March, as the economic impact of the coronavirus was taking hold, the CARES Act was signed into law. As part of the financial aid package, households were issued money to help tide them over the weeks and months ahead as more and more business were closed, and unprecedented numbers of jobs lost. Stimulus checks totalling the value of $270 billion were issued to more than 160 million Americans.

Republicans point to those most in need of direct payments

Since then, the payments have continued to be made as the Inland Revenue Service tries to resolve problems and reach all those who are eligible. Many still await their first payment but talk for some time has been on the need for a second package, with voices across the party lines unable to agree on how best to deliver it. Republicans were less in favour of another check being sent out, however, that attitude may be changing.

Last week, President Trump said on TV that he supported a second round of direct payments to individuals, going so far as to say: “I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats.”

And then, during an interview at the White House on Tuesday, Trump gave an idea of the timeline, as some in need have started to get concerned about how long it is taking.

"We are working on another stimulus package, and that will take place... very soon," POTUS assured Americans, the pause a chance to avoid stating any specific dates.

Previous penmanship | US President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act financial response to the coronavirus disease, 24 April 2020.

Previous penmanship | US President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act financial response to the coronavirus disease, 24 April 2020.

On Monday, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, gave his own view on who he thought were under the most pressure during this difficult time, and in need of help.

"I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less,” he said at a public appearance in Kentucky. “Many of them work in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry, as all of you know, just got rim-racked, hotels, restaurants… And so [more stimulus checks] could be part of it."

He ended his statement with a positive, "the country needs one last boost,” although some commentators are concerned that ‘one’ may be an optimistic assessment of the situation.

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Economists push for cash payments as food aid comes up short

Direct cash payments can improve financial security, boost consumer spending and may speed up the recovery, according to a letter from a group of economists calling on US policymakers to keep providing direct cash payments to Americans until the economy is stronger.

The stimulus payments should be issued automatically, based on certain economic indicators such as the unemployment rate, until there is enough evidence that the economy is recovering, the group of mostly left-leaning economists said in an open letter organised by the Economic Security Project and The Justice Collaborative.

And concerns were raised further as the government delivered far less food aid than it had pledged by the end of June, according to food bank managers and data from the agriculture department, after it hired inexperienced companies to box food during the pandemic. The Farmers to Families Food Box program, one of several new government efforts to relieve struggling Americans, aimed to take food from farmers typically produced for restaurants and deliver it to the millions of people who lost their jobs or were otherwise hit by the coronavirus lockdown.