Up until this week, it felt like another stimulus package was inevitable but the prospects of a stimulus check were growing dimmer. The Cares Act, among other acts of stimulus, created a $1,200 check that was distributed to all American who earned less than its income threshold. It also created additional unemployment insurance of $600 a week that is set to expire in July.
Since then, many of the proposals out of Washington were far more targeted and only a handful included stimulus checks like the Cares Act.
Some of the bills that did offer stimulus, such as the Emergency Money for the People Act by Representatives Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan, which would give $2,000 per month to Americans age 16 and older who earned less than $130,000.
Many others did not and were targeted to different areas:
- Back to Work Bonuses for those who return to work, including a $450 reemployment benefit proposed by Senator Rob Portman and a two-time $600 weekly payment proposed by Representative Kevin Brady.
- A second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans supported by Senators Ben Cardin, Chris Coons, and Jeanne Shaheen.
- A Skills Renewal Act providing a refundable tax credit worth up to $4,000 for skills training.
- The TRIP Act that offered a tax credit of $4,000 per adult to take a vacation over 50 miles away from home, plus an extra $500 per child.
- Reports by Bloomberg that the Trump administration is considering a $1 trillion infrastructure program.
The only bill to pass either chamber of Congress was the Heroes Act, which created a $1,200 payment to Americans who earned less than $75,000. The amount of the check doubled for joint filers to $2,400 and the income phase out started at $150,000. It also included an additional $1,200 for dependents for a maximum of three.
A family of five under the income threshold would receive $6,000.
The bill was considered “dead on arrival” by Republicans and many believe it’s because there is no appetite for broadly based stimulus anymore.
It felt like a stimulus check to most Americans was dead too.
In an interview on Monday, Joe St. George, National Political Editor & Washington Correspondent for Scripps, directly asked the President about a second stimulus check and the President said “We will be doing another stimulus package. It’ll be very good, it’ll be very generous, and people—”
Those who listened closely heard him say “package,” despite answering a question about a check, and assumed he meant a stimulus package, which everyone expects will happen in the near future.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the President has told aides that he’s “largely supportive of sending Americans another round of stimulus checks.” No parsing of words necessary here – he reportedly supports the idea of sending another round of stimulus checks. While this is not an “official White House position,” just hearing that he’s supportive drastically improves the chances a check will be included.
The reasoning for including one is that the payments will boost the economy plus they would improve his chances at reelection later this year.
As recently as yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the next stimulus package will be jobs-focused. This follows the recent trend that the next package would more likely include a return to work bonus than a broad stimulus check.
With those within the White House split on what to do, it’s possible that there will be stimulus checks but they won’t be sent to as many people. This may assuage those who feel the stimulus bills are too costly.
There could be lower income phaseouts or restrictions placed on the funds to “force” recipients to spend the money rather than save it – since there’s concern that many Americans saved their checks rather than spent it.
But as the unemployment benefit is set to expire in July and with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell vowing to end those benefits, including a stimulus check in the next package could be something the President could use to bolster is reelection chances.