President Donald Trump says that he now supports a second stimulus check.
Here’s what you need to know.
Second Stimulus Check
Trump said on Fox Business Wednesday that he not only supports second stimulus checks, but also that he supports a “larger” second stimulus check than the Democrats. “I do. I support it, but it has to be done properly,” Trump said. “I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats.” This is the clearest expression to date from Trump regarding his support for a second stimulus check. Last month, he said there would be another stimulus package coming soon. There have been many proposals for a second stimulus check, ranging from a one-time $1,200 second stimulus check to $2,000 a month stimulus checks. While Trump did not specify which proposal from Democrats he was referring to, most likely he is referring to the one-time, $1,200 second stimulus check proposed by House Democrats.
Second stimulus check could be “larger” than $1,200
If Trump get his way in Congress, then his vision for a second stimulus check implies a second stimulus check larger than $1,200 for each individual. Why? House Democrats passed the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion stimulus package that also includes a second stimulus check. The Heroes Act would provide up to $1,200 for each individual and up to $1,200 for each dependent (with a maximum of three dependents). Unlike the CARES Act, the Heroes Act would count high school and college students as eligible dependents for a stimulus payment. House Democrats proposed the $1,200 second stimulus check in the Heroes Act, and based on Trump’s comments, he may support a larger second stimulus check than this. That said, only Congress (not the president) ultimately will decide whether there will be a second stimulus check, and if so, its size. To date, Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are unlikely to support a second stimulus check. However, this could change due to pressure from the White House, worsening employment numbers, and potentially more positive cases due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Return to work bonus instead of unemployment
Trump also said he prefers a “return-to-work” bonus over extending supplemental unemployment benefits. It’s unclear whether a “return to work bonus” would be in addition to, or in lieu of, a second stimulus check. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) proposed a “return to work” bonus, which would pay you money to get a job if you’re unemployed or return to work if you are furloughed. The proposal has emerged as an alternative to extending certain unemployment benefits beyond July 31, 2020. That said, the $600 a week unemployment benefits were slated to expire on July 31. However, these unemployment benefits will now expire one week early. This means that states could stop paying unemployment benefits as early as July 25 or July 26.
Some, including Trump, have argued that the current supplemental unemployment benefits through the Cares Act pay some people more money than they earned when they were employed. “Also it was an incentive not to go to work,” Trump said during the interview. “You’d make more money if you don’t go to work. That’s not what the country’s all about. We want to create a tremendous incentive for people to want to go back to work.” Under Portman’s proposal, you can earn your regular wages plus $450 a week, if you are employed. A return to work bonus could be supported by both Senate Republicans and the White House in the next stimulus bill.
Trump supports “at least” a $2 trillion stimulus bill
According to White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, the president wants the next stimulus bill to be “at least $2 trillion.” This is nearly double the $1 trillion amount that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would target and two-thirds the size of the $3 trillion Heroes Act that House Democrats passed. If Congress passes a stimulus bill with a larger second stimulus check, however, the next stimulus bill could cost more than the Heroes Act. Trump’s advisors have indicated the next stimulus bill could be focused on manufacturing jobs, a payroll tax cut, a return-to-work bonus, a $4,000 travel credit and an infrastructure plan, among others. However, this could change if the president, who is up for re-election in November, pushes a second stimulus check over other priorities to stimulate the economy.
Will there be a second stimulus check? Congress, not the president, will make the ultimate decision. Congress will vote this month on a new stimulus package. To date, the next stimulus package was expected to help individuals and businesses, with a particular focus on how to stimulate the economy. This may change somewhat, if the president continues to focus on direct payments such as a second stimulus check. Congress will need to weigh total spending, the state of the economy, and how and where to target support against the backdrop of Covid-19.