Although it is too early to say, the answer seems to be that there will not be a fourth round of stimulus checks. The dire need for relief appears to be waning; coronavirus lockdowns are being lifted across the country, and the economic shutdown which prompted the checks to be sent out in the first place is ending after a massive vaccination campaign. Congress, which would need to negotiate another stimulus bill for a fourth round of checks, clearly has other priorities. As President Biden gave his joint address on Thursday night, marking his hundredth day in office, he pointedly did not address the question of further checks.
However, while Biden did not commit to further stimulus checks—in the form of direct payments to Americans—he did promise to implement a number of other economic proposals, some of which may benefit American families to a similar degree in the form of government benefits and tax relief.
Biden’s American Families Plan, the measure under which these measures are being advanced, proposes to significantly expand the Child Tax Credit. If passed, the credit would increase to $3,600 for each child under age six and $3,000 for those over age six for qualifying families. This provision was already added to the emergency coronavirus-era stimulus bill; however, Biden proposes to extend it through the year 2025, and possibly beyond.
Another significant source of savings comes from Biden’s proposal to cap the cost of daycare at 7% of a family’s income. By subsidizing childcare costs for low- and middle-income families, the White House has estimated that it will save the average American family nearly $15,000 per year.
Finally, for families without children, the plan promises to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and to decrease health insurance premiums—with a White House official estimate suggesting that each family would save an additional $50 per month.
Will any of this actually happen? At this stage, it is hard to say for certain. Republicans have broadly opposed the American Families Plan, agreeing in principle with most of its goals but criticizing its exorbitant cost amid already-soaring deficits. However, the plan is also opposed by some Democrats, notably Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who want future economic plans to have bipartisan support as previous coronavirus-era stimulus packages have had. Biden’s early promises of bipartisan outreach and compromise have mostly come to nothing, with both sides accusing the other of bad faith.
With a razor-thin majority in the House, and a deadlock in the Senate, Biden will be hard-pressed to corral all the necessary votes to pass the American Families Plan. Even so, polling suggests that the plan’s proposals are broadly popular among Americans, possibly putting pressure on uncertain legislators to approve them. In U.S. politics, nothing is certain, but the American Families Plan seems like a decent bet.
Trevor Filseth is a news reporter and writer for the National Interest.