The IRS is continuing its distribution of direct federal stimulus payments worth up to $1,400 as part of the American Rescue Plan. To date, the IRS has sent over 164 million payments worth a total of roughly $386 billion to eligible Americans.
These payments, the largest direct federal stimulus payments distributed during the COVID-19 pandemic so far and which have coincided with both greater rates of vaccinations across the country as well as with the reopening of many businesses, have helped to jumpstart an economic recovery. Both consumer spending and household income have increased thanks to the distribution of stimulus payments, while first quarter GDP increased by 6.4%.
For many people, however, the gains threaten to be short-lived. According to a recent survey, 61 percent of respondents reported that their third-round stimulus check of up to $1,400 would only support their financial security for up to three months. Of that number, 21 percent reported that their stimulus payment would not last for even a month, and 14 percent indicated that their stimulus check would not improve their financial situation at all.
As a result, public demands for additional stimulus payments beyond the current third-round of payments have been growing. An online petition circulated on Change.org started by Colorado restaurant owner Stephanie Bonin calling for additional payments of $2,000 for adults and $1,000 for children, followed by regularly recurring payments for the duration of the pandemic, now has over 2.1 million signatures. According to Bonin, many Americans are still struggling with the financial impacts of the pandemic, and the economic recovery has yet to reach them.
While Bonin’s is the largest online petition calling for additional stimulus payments, it is not the only one. A similar petition, circulated in recognition of the support for additional stimulus payments expressed by some Democratic members of Congress, has over 54,000 signatures, while an additional two petitions also calling for recurring payments now including over 48,000 and 28,000 signatures, respectively. A further petition calling for $2,000 monthly payments for every unemployed American age 16 and older as well as full rent and mortgage payment forgiveness for the duration of the pandemic, has garnered growing support and now includes over 33,000 signatures. Combined, these petitions include a total of more than 2.3 million signatures.
In addition to growing public demand for additional stimulus payments, Democratic lawmakers have also been pushing the Biden administration to commit to more payments in the future. A letter sent in January to President Biden and Vice President Harris, signed by several democratic members of the House of Representatives, called on the administration to pursue additional recurring payments, as did a letter in March from over 20 Senate Democrats.
The administration has remained noncommittal regarding further stimulus payments, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently suggesting that such payments would be up to Congress.
Eli Fuhrman is a contributing writer for The National Interest.