Key point: The stimulus checks have helped many Americans. However, with the economy recovering Biden might not heed calls for more payments.
Over the past couple of months, more than one hundred sixty million coronavirus stimulus checks—valued at $384 billion—have been disbursed to cash-strapped U.S. taxpayers under the American Rescue Plan.
And most of the data point to the fact that the U.S. economy is now on the fast lane to a full recovery, even though the pandemic hasn’t been fully contained yet.
But on Wednesday night before Congress, as millions of pandemic-weary Americans sought more answers regarding a potential fourth or even a fifth round of direct payments, there was nary a word on that issue from President Joe Biden.
Those who are vehemently against giving more financial assistance to Americans are contending that Congress has already done enough, as it has green-lighted the delivery of three stimulus cash payments—a $1,200 check in April 2020, $600 in December, and the current $1,400 payments under the president’s $1.9 trillion legislation.
There is no doubt that Biden understands why there is that reluctance to send out more stimulus funds, but he also appears to be fully aware of the financial pain that many Americans are still enduring. And recent studies and polls are making this even harder to ignore.
For example, according to a report by the Economic Security Project, more rounds of stimulus checks have the potential to lift twelve million Americans out of poverty.
“Evidence from the last year shows stimulus checks to be the fastest and most impactful investments helping Americans get through this crisis, lifting more people out of poverty than any other single policy,” the report stated.
The study further revealed that an additional sixteen million Americans were lifted out of poverty because of the most recent $1,400 stimulus payments, which amount to roughly $850 billion in total.
In another analysis conducted by the Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute & Brookings Institution, it suggested one more round of stimulus payments has the potential to lift more than seven million people out of poverty.
“Another round of payments could lift an additional 6.6 to 7.3 million people out of poverty, depending on whether the payment was restricted to citizens or made available to everyone,” the team wrote.
The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that about thirty-four million people live in poverty in the United States.
It appears that many Washington lawmakers have taken note. Last month, nearly two dozen Democratic senators pressed Biden to include recurring direct payments in his “Build Back Better” legislation.
“We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan,” the senators’ letter stated.
“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. Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions,” they added.
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. This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.