Pandemic might not be over yet, but the Biden administration is cynical on the fourth stimulus check.
- Senators and congressional members urged Biden to support a fourth stimulus check but got muted response
- Online petition for a fourth stimulus check has got more than 3 million signatures
- No mention of a fourth stimulus check in the reconciliation bill but contains provisions for extension of the Child Tax Credit for the 2021 fiscal year till 2025
- Some of the states have already approved stimulus checks for providing direct financial benefits to their citizens
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Biden administration has successfully rolled out stimulus checks for Americans dealing with the financial crisis of the virus outbreak. The states too are individually providing a range of economic benefits to families all across the United States. After the distribution of three stimulus checks this year, there is now a clamour for the fourth stimulus check.
The last federal stimulus check amounted to $1,400 and was third in a row. Since then, there have been calls for additional cash injections into American households, many of which are still struggling to cope up with the economic impact of the pandemic.
Here are some of the latest updates on a possible fourth stimulus check.
Fourth federal stimulus check update
Senators and Congressional members proposed the fourth stimulus check before President Biden as part of the broader Build Back Better plan. However, there has been a muted response from the Biden administration to the calls. During spring this year, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden is “happy to hear from a range of ideas,” but added that “he’s also proposed what he thinks is going to be the most effective for the short term for putting people back to work, to getting through this pivotal period of time, and also to making us more competitive over the long term.”
In a similar vein in June this year, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the House Ways and Means Committee that she believed that stimulus checks can be a really good approach to prop up the economy but also said that sometimes such measures do not yield expected results. She had said that it was necessary to consider the consequences of a fourth stimulus check a little more prior to taking a decision.
Demands for a $2000 fourth stimulus check
In recent months, the clamour of a fourth stimulus check has heightened with an online petition being filed on the Change.org website. The petition calls on the government for a fourth stimulus check worth $2,000 to be given to deserving Americans, especially the senior citizens.
The petition has amassed signatories from every state and is working its way to becoming one of the most signed petitions on the Change.org website. It has received more than 3 million signatures and the number of signatories from each state is largely in proportion to the people who live in that state. For example, Wyoming the smallest state by population has the least number of signatures.
On the other hand, the states of California, Texas, Florida and New York are the ones that have more than 200,000 people signing up for the petition to send out $2,000 monthly stimulus checks. More than 100,000 people signed the online petition from two states, Illinois and Pennsylvania. And there are 11 states that have signatories between 50,000 and 100,000 signatories. Less than 10,000 people have signed the petition from 11 more states which include Maine, Idaho, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana, Vermont, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming.
Congress More or Less Silent on the matter
In recent months, while Democrats have been active to push through Congress the rest of President Biden’s, there has been scant vocal support for recurring stimulus checks, including the fourth stimulus check. The fourth such check would add billions of dollars to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that the Democrats intend to leverage to push the wide-ranging proposals through Congress.
And some Democrats have even expressed concerns about the overall cost of the bill and have called for downsizing it.
Alternatives to a Fourth Stimulus Check Included in Build Back Better Bill
Even though there is no mention of a fourth stimulus check in the proposed reconciliation bill, it does contain provisions for another valuable direct cash injection. This is the proposal for extension of the changes to the Child Tax Credit for the 2021 fiscal year till 2025 which would offer families continued financial support in the form of advance monthly payments on the enhanced tax provision which are currently up to $300 per child under 6 years and $250 for each child aged between 6 and 17 years.
The Child Tax Credit could inject as much as $27 billion into local economies across the country over a 12-month period, according to a report in August by the Niskanen Center. This can be especially effective in rural communities as it would add to the purchasing power of the communities.
States are also sending their own Stimulus Checks
While there has been a little positive reaction in Washington to the online petitions for Congress to approve more stimulus checks, some of the states have already approved stimulus checks for providing direct financial benefits to their citizens. Some of the checks are set to go out in October itself even for many who are not eligible for federal payments.
The major states that are providing stimulus checks even in October are mentioned below.
- California: Golden State Stimulus
The second round of Golden State Stimulus for about two-thirds of its people was approved this summer by California as the state had a larger than expected budget surplus. The state had previously given away stimulus checks for undocumented workers in the state who were not eligible for the federal stimulus checks and low-income citizens of the state. Now the state is providing a one-time pay-out to all citizens who earn less than $75,000.
- New York’s Excluded Workers Fund
A $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund is available in New York which is to be distributed among those who were ineligible for unemployment benefits, including undocumented workers. Those New Yorkers who earned less than $26,208 in 2020 will be eligible for this check. Help in the form of a $5,000 check will be given out to local artists in New York City in October.
- Tennessee’s Stimulus Checks for Teachers
Part-time and full-time teachers of Tennessee will get $500 and $1,000 bonuses respectively and the payments are to be distributed by the end of this year. But these one-time checks will replace a 2% pay-hike which had been expected to be introduced by many teachers.
While not being stimulus checks in the exact sense, people in Alaska who have not been a part of the workforce for an extended period of time could be given some additional financial aid. The Federal-State Extended Benefits program could help qualified Alaskan residents to get 13 to 20 weeks of additional payments. However, the conditions for qualifying and the amount to be paid are still undecided.