For Americans who have had a tough year financially amid Covid-19, a second set of $1,200 stimulus checks would provide some much welcome relief.
But lawmakers on Capitol Hill still need to work out their differences before they can approve another coronavirus stimulus package that will trigger those payments.
Now, a group of more than 125 economists including Jason Furman, a former top economic advisor to President Barack Obama, is calling for more direct cash payments to American families to help them weather the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initiative was organized by the Economic Security Project, an advocate of guaranteed income.
“We urge policymakers to use all the tools at their disposal to revitalize the economy, including direct cash payments, which are one of the quickest, most equitable and most effective ways to get families and the economy back on track,” the economists state in an open letter.
In addition, the economists call stimulus checks an “essential tool” for preventing poverty from increasing more. They also cite research from the Urban Institute, which found that two additional stimulus checks could help keep about 14 million people out of poverty.
An additional round of stimulus checks should coincide with more aid including unemployment, state and local aid, more Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and childcare funding, the economists said.
The federal government sent out approximately 160 million stimulus checks starting in April. The payments, which were authorized by Congress through the CARES Act, included up to $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per married couple and $500 per child under 17.
Full payments went to individuals with adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 and to married couples who file taxes jointly with up to $150,000 in income. Payments were reduced for those with incomes above those thresholds, and phased out completely at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples who file jointly.
Washington lawmakers have been negotiating for months on a new coronavirus stimulus deal.
At times, another set of stimulus checks has seemed like a sure thing. At other times, those payments have seemed less likely, amid efforts to keep the total cost of the prospective aid package down.
Nov. 17: Lawmakers push to resume stimulus talks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urging him to resume conversations around the next relief package.
“It is essential that this bill have sufficient funding and delivers meaningful relief to the many Americans who are suffering,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote.
McConnell has pushed for the Senate to complete a small $500 billion bill that does not include stimulus checks. It remains to be seen whether he is willing to compromise to include more aid. The stimulus checks sent through the CARES Act amounted to more than $270 billion.