As the payments for the third stimulus check, passed in March, conclude, the question of a fourth check has been a subject of increasing debate in the United States. Advocates for the checks claim that they will reduce poverty and throw a lifeline to many people adversely affected by the pandemic. Their detractors, on the other hand, have argued against the programs’ prohibitive cost, and suggested that the economy is already recovering on its own, therefore needing no additional stimulus.
The White House has not yet weighed in on this dispute. The question of a fourth stimulus check was notably not taken up by President Biden in his joint address to Congress on April 28, 2021. A week later, on May 4, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki seemed unenthusiastic about the proposal, commenting that “we’ll see what members of Congress propose” and noting the programs’ high cost.
There is currently no legislation in Congress that includes a fourth stimulus check. The other two bills which President Biden touted on April 28 – the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan – contain a number of other cash proposals. The American Jobs Plan touts infrastructure redevelopment that could benefit all Americans, and the American Families Plan even includes limited cash distribution proposals, through reimbursement of childcare expenses and an increase of the Child Income Tax Credit – some payments of which may be sent out in advance, effectively creating a miniature stimulus check targeted at working families. However, neither plan calls for direct universal cash relief, as the previous three stimulus checks have provided.
Altogether, opposition to the fourth check from lawmakers and economists seems to suggest that it is not likely. However, it is worth noting that the second and third stimulus checks received similar opposition, and were ultimately passed.
In terms of amount, the fourth check’s amount will probably be similar to the first three – roughly $1000 per person, possibly several hundred dollars more. Its issuing conditions will probably also be the same; the first three checks were sent out in full to all Americans who made less than $75,000 per year (or, in the case of couples, $150,000 per year).
The third check, however, was more heavily restricted for those whose incomes were above this limit. Considering the Democratic majority in Congress and Democrats’ focus on lower-income Americans, it seems likely that the third check’s restrictions will endure for the fourth check as well.
There have been proposals from the Democratic Party’s progressive wing for $2000 monthly stimulus checks. However, considering fierce opposition to these from congressional Republicans, their extreme cost, the Biden administration’s apparent reluctance, and the vaccine-prompted initial stages of recovery from the pandemic, this proposal seems unlikely to succeed.
Trevor Filseth is a news reporter and writer for the National Interest.