FOURTH STIMULUS CHECK

When could there be a new stimulus payment according to the experts?

Calls for a fourth stimulus check or even automatic payments revived again after a recent analysis of the effects of stimulus checks during the pandemic.

0
When could there be a new stimulus payment according to the experts?
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP

The three rounds of stimulus checks that have been sent out over the past year provided substantial financial and mental relief to Americans struggling through the economic crisis brought on by the covid-19 pandemic according to a recent analysis.

Research performed by Luke Shaefer and Patrick Cooney for Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan looked at data collected by the US Census Bureau in its Household Pulse Survey. The findings stoked renewed calls for programs to put money directly into the pockets of Americans.

However, those calls are mitigated by the facts on the ground with the economy reopening and recovering at a faster than expected clip. As well the high price tag of such measures in addition to the ambitious $4 trillion investment proposals by the White House. Despite more than 80 congressional lawmakers urging for their inclusion in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, there most likely isn’t enough support among the rest of the Democratic caucus for any new stimulus payments right now.

Progressives push for more direct payments to Americans

There are many voices calling for additional payments from the public to economists and in Congress. A petition on Change.org calling on Congress and President Biden to provide $2,000 per month recurring payments to Americans has gathered over 2.3 million signatures.

The White House has received three letters from congressional lawmakers urging the inclusion of recurring stimulus checks until the end of the pandemic. There are proposals for “automatic stabilizers” and legislation for recurring payments has been reintroduced in the House.

The New York Times first reported on the results of the University of Michigan study which prompted progressives in Congress to share the report saying it makes the case for recurring payments and Universal Basic Income (UBI). Representative Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus tweeted "Putting money in people's pockets WORKS. We can and MUST continue to enact people-first policies that improve lives."

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a vice chair of the Progressive Caucus who along with Rep. Jayapal have reintroduced the ABC Act which would send Americans recurring direct payments tweeted "If anything, the survival checks proved what advocates have been saying and demanding."

Their voices were joined by Representative Ilhan Omar, the Progressive Caucus' whip tweeting "A case study for implementing #UBI." As well as Senator Bernie Sanders with the message “Yes. Government can and should continue to address the needs of working people, not just the 1%.”

When could a fourth stimulus check be approved?

President Biden has presented the next two phases of his Build Back Better plan which would see an additional $4 trillion in spending on infrastructure and American families. Both pieces of legislation are expected to encounter headwinds from Republicans because of the sheer size of the plans.

The White House called off negotiations with GOP senators over his American Jobs Plan after the counter offer from Republican negotiators was seen as insufficient and lacking core proposals. A bipartisan group of 20 senators has reached an initial agreement on a framework for an $1 trillion infrastructure investment package but progressive members of Congress have slammed it for not tackling the challenges that climate change presents.

Republican lawmakers want the legislation to focus on traditional infrastructure, negating any likelihood that a stimulus check or other form of direct payment could get into the bill if the White House wants Republicans to support a final legislative proposal. “This has got to be the meat and potatoes of infrastructure: roads, bridges, and ports, and that’s what we’re trying to push,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said.

Lawmakers push for direct payments as part of American Families Plan

The focus for more social spending seems to be focused on the American Families Plan, the White House’s proposal for investing in the American family. President Biden unveiled his $1.8 trillion investment in education, child care and paid family leave in April. It isn’t clear when Congress would take up the proposal as lawmakers are working through the details of the infrastructure bill. This proposal would encounter even stronger opposition from GOP lawmakers with the increased taxes on the wealthy that are included and the larger role the state would take in everyday life.

Democrats would most likely seek to pass the bill before the end of the year to include expanded tax provisions from the American Rescue Plan that only apply to the 2021 fiscal year. In order to get the bill through the evenly split Senate would require support from at least 10 Republicans unless Democrats use budget reconciliation as they did with the American Rescue Plan. The parliamentary process allowed Democrats to pass the legislation without the threat of the filibuster using a simple majority vote.

However, centrist Democrats, in particular Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have expressed reluctance to use that process and want the legislation to be bipartisan. Furthermore, using reconciliation would limit what could go into the bill as with the $15 per hour minimum wage hike that was removed from the American Rescue Plan after the Senate parliamentarian judged that it didn’t meet the requirements to be included.

A lot will depend on how the economy recovers into the summer and fall and whether there will be the impetus for additional stimulus checks. Currently there is more focus on continuing the enhanced Child Tax Credit for 2021 that will begin sending households with children monthly direct payments starting in July. President Biden has proposed extending the expansion until 2025, while the congressional Democrats want to make it permanent.

As for a fourth stimulus check Yeva Nersisyan, Associate Professor of Economics at Franklin & Marshall College told CBS “let’s see if people still need more assistance. Let’s see how the economy’s doing as things keep opening up and the vaccination rates go up and things go back to some sense of normal. And let’s see where the unemployment numbers are. Are people still running behind on their rents and mortgages and so on? And based on that, let’s decide whether we need to inject more spending into the economy. I would say wait and see right now.”