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Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

Second $600 stimulus check: what’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter poll?

AOC has taken to Twitter to measure the temperature of public opinion on a new proposal to halve the amount included in a new stimulus bill.

Second $600 stimulus check: what’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter poll?

As Congress approaches its Christmas recess, focus has once again turned to the matter of a stimulus bill, and the – potentially - subsequent stimulus checks. Today Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking a poll on Twitter aimed at gathering popular opinion on whether Americans feel they could survive with a stimulus payout of half the amount sent out in March. The poll expires at approximately 9pm ET on 17 December 2020.

In it, AOC asks the question “Is $600 for a second COVID check enough?” With the response options “Yes”, “No”, or “Hell no.”

Since March lawmakers in the Capitol have failed to agree on another large-scale stimulus package to help Americans survive the economic fallout of the pandemic. After an initial surge of bipartisan sentiment to pass the CARES Act at the outset, the two parties have not been able to find a compromise since.

What are the pre-Christmas stimulus bills on offer?

At the time of writing there are two “skinny” stimulus bill proposals on the table, aimed at bridging the gap between the Trump administration as Biden prepares to take the reins in January.

The first option is a bipartisan relief bill that would be worth $908 billion in federal funding. The cross-party moderate proposal has been dismissed, by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi amongst others, because it does not include another round of stimulus checks. It did however include a $300-a-week extension of federal employment benefits, half the amount provided in the CARES Act.

Alternatively, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has tabled a $916 billion package which does include another round of Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks). This time however Americans would be entitled to just $600 per person and $600 per child; half the amount provided in the CARES Act. Trump is known to be eager to get another round of direct payments agreed before he leaves office and this package was drawn up with the backing of the President.

Why did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make a poll on stimulus checks?

The CARES Act, agreed on by both Republicans and Democrats and passed in Congress in March, provided for $1,200 stimulus checks for all tax-filing individuals who were eligible.

However, this time around, in ongoing discussions almost nine months later, a $1,200 stimulus check is not a done deal, for several reasons; including growing reluctance from Republicans to spend money on individual pay outs at all as several vaccines have begun the rollout process and on the surface the economy seems to be recovering. Though crucially the jobs market is floundering and many are still in desperate need.

According to a BBC report, nearly 26 million adults - 12% of all adults in the US - reported in that their household had food shortages in the past week, according to Household Pulse Survey data collected in November.

So instead, in the $916 billion Mnuchin – White House bill detailed above, a halfway compromise has been suggested, of $600 stimulus per individual instead. The bipartisan bill worth $908 billion was swiftly rejected by some Democrats and Nancy Pelosi for not including any provision for a stimulus check to individuals. The bipartisan bill does include extended $300 jobless aid.

The key issue is that while in May the Democrat-led House passed the $3.2 trillion HEROES Act, which they hoped would be the successor to the CARES Act. However McConnell refused to vote on either that or a stripped-down HEROES Act 2.0, which came in at around $2.2 trillion.

Both new bills are a fraction of these two totals, at under one trillion each, therefore a choice will have to be made between substantial unemployment benefits, or the full $1,200 stimulus check. Either way, something will have to be seriously watered down the in the short term.

There’s also fresh hope that will come on 20 January as Donald Trump leaves the White House and Joe Biden is sworn in.

Needless to say the replies have been rather predictable to the poll so far.


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