It appears that a fourth coronavirus stimulus check isn’t getting much love among Republican lawmakers, but know that the White House did recently improve the chance of fast-tracking one to further assist millions of struggling American families.
“(President Joe Biden) is happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what’s most important to the economy moving forward,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “But 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 in the long-term.”
Proponents of more stimulus funds are pointing to data that indicate that direct payments over the past year have helped millions of Americans avoid financial disaster.
Household food shortages plummeted by 42 percent and financial instability 43 percent, according to a recent University of Michigan study that analyzed Census Bureau data. In addition, mental health of Americans markedly improved, as frequent bouts of anxiety and depression fell by more than 20 percent.
“Our analyses thus far have yielded a fairly simple story: throughout the crisis, the level of hardship faced by U.S. households can be directly linked to the federal government’s response,” the study wrote, adding that low-income households earning $25,000 or less benefitted the most from the direct cash payments.
In Washington, there indeed is growing support among Democratic lawmakers for more stimulus checks.
“We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your . . . long-term economic plan,” Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and his colleagues wrote in a letter to Biden.
“While we are pleased that the American Rescue Plan included a one-time direct payment and an extension of federal unemployment insurance programs, a single direct payment will not last long for most families. . . . This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads,” they added.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman has also seen how much stimulus checks can help poverty-stricken American families.
“I always think that we ought not overthink getting people out of poverty. It’s vitally important. It helps put food on the table. It helps stave off the prospect of losing your housing,” Coleman recently told NJ.com. “I think there certainly can be a case made for it. It gave people some breathing room and it gave people a sense of some stability, something that they could count on. This has been a very frightening period for people.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.