Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

Third stimulus check: comparing Trump and Biden’s stimulus packages

From the first stimulus check via the CARES Act, through December's bill and the American Rescue Plan, what’s the difference between what Biden and Trump offer?

hird stimulus check: comparing Trump and Biden’s stimulus packages
BRANDON BELL REUTERS

On 14 January, Joe Biden released details of his American Rescue Plan, just weeks after Congress had passed the $900 billion emergency covid-19 relief bill in late December, breaking a nine-month long stalemate in negotiations between Republican and Democrat lawmakers.

The size of the new proposed package makes it the largest stimulus bill since the CARES Act was signed last March. Whether the plan will pass through Congress in its current form remains to be seen, with several Democrats objecting to anything below a $2,000 stimulus check and even moderate Republicans objecting to the principle of a third stimulus so soon after the second.

What were Trump’s stimulus packages worth?

What has each stimulus check been worth so far compared to Biden’s new American Rescue Plan proposal? Below we compare the overall cost of each package so far, what the maximum stimulus check per individual would be and other defining features for eligibility.

Note: AGI stands for Annual Gross Income, and the lower limit is the annual income to receive the full amount as an individual tax filer. The schemes all then have a system where the stimulus check total available gradually decreases, or phases out, incrementally until those who earn the AGI upper limit would receive no check.

Trump’s stimulus package 1: the CARES Act

Approved back in March 2020, the CARES Act approved stimulus checks or "Economic Impact Payments" that ended up being sent out to over 160 million recipients, according to the IRS.

  • Total budget: $2.2 trillion
  • Total stimulus check for lowest earners: $1,200
  • Annual Gross Income (AGI) lower limit: Under $75,000
  • Annual Gross Income (AGI) upper limit: Over $99,000
  • Weekly Federal Unemployment Benefit: $600 per week for 16 weeks
  • Amount for child dependents under 16: $500
  • Amount available for coronavirus test, trace, treatment: does not address

Trump’s stimulus package 2: December's "skinny" stimulus package

Then there was a lot of talk for nearly nine months but no stimulus approval until after the presidential election. What was finally approved amounted to a very skinny bill, which was neither small enough for most Republicans and far too tiny for the majority of Democrats. What’s important to note that the overall Trump administration investment for the December bill ended up being under $500bn because they used $400bn that was leftover in the pot from CARES before it.

  • Total budget: $900 billion
  • Total stimulus check for lowest earners: $600
  • Annual Gross Income (AGI) lower limit: Under $75,000
  • Annual Gross Income (AGI) upper limit: Over $87,000
  • Weekly Federal Unemployment Benefit: $300 per week for 11 weeks (expires 14 March)
  • Amount for child dependents under 16: $600
  • Amount available for coronavirus test, trace, treatment: $69bn, including vaccine budget.

Biden’s stimulus package: American Rescue Plan proposal

  • Total budget: $1.9 trillion
  • Total stimulus check for lowest earners: $1,400
  • Annual Gross Income (AGI) lower limit: Under $75,000
  • Annual Gross Income (AGI) upper limit: Over $115,000
  • Weekly Federal Unemployment Benefit: $400 per week through September*
  • Amount for dependents of all ages: $600**
  • Amount available for coronavirus test, trace, treatment: $160bn, including vaccine budget,  equipment and personnel.

* The weekly Federal Unemployment provision includes triggers that would extend the benefits after September for those who continue to be out of work and include automatic payment adjustments linked to health and economic conditions.

** According to the People’s Policy Project, including adult dependents and students over the age of 16 automatically includes 13.5 million adult dependents, who were included in neither of the first two stimulus bills.

Notably, Biden’s new plan also includes provision to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and extend the eviction and foreclosure freezes until the end of September.

The ARP also proposes extending emergency nutritional assistance to the 43 million children and their families enrolled in the SNAP program to the end of 2021. The $3 billion cost includes financial aid to restaurants to prepare meals for the program.

To estimate what you might receive from the third stimulus check proposal use CNET’s stimulus check calculator.