It's been nearly two months since Congress passed and the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. At $2.2 trillion, it's the largest relief package ever passed by Congress -- albeit it's designed to tackle a never-before-seen problem like the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has cost an estimated 36 million people their jobs over an eight-week stretch.
Although the CARES Act provided funds for hospitals, distressed industries, small business loans, and for the expansion of the unemployment benefits program, it's best known for the $300 billion set aside for direct stimulus payments to American workers and seniors.
According to the Treasury Department, more than 150 million people are eligible for an Economic Impact Payment, as these stimulus payouts are officially known. Based on fairly recent data, the Internal Revenue Service had disbursed almost 130 million payments totaling $218 billion.
At their maximum, these Economic Impact Payments could total $1,200 per individual or $2,400 for a married couple filing jointly. Additionally, qualifying dependents aged 16 and under can add $500 to what their parent or household will receive. Thus, a married couple filing jointly with three young children could collect $3,900 in stimulus money. To qualify for this maximum payout, a single, married, or head-of-household tax filer would need to have earned less than $75,000, $150,000, and $112,500, respectively, in adjusted gross income (AGI) in their most recent tax filing.
There's absolutely no question that this stimulus money was needed by recipients to buy essential goods and pay everything from their rent/mortgage to utility bills. But the fact remains that this stimulus money didn't even last a month for approximately three-quarters of recipients. A second round of stimulus is very much needed, and new proposals on what this second package should look like are popping up all over Washington, D.C.
Here are seven of the most prominent proposals, so far, for what the second stimulus package should look like (not listed in any particular order).
1. Emergency Money for the People Act
First up is the Emergency Money for the People Act, introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio). The goal of this second stimulus proposal would be to provide up to $2,000 in monthly payouts to individuals, or up to $4,000 monthly to couples filing jointly, for a period of one year. Single and married filers with incomes below $130,000 and $260,000, respectively, would qualify for this second round of stimulus.
Similar to the CARES Act, dependents could add up to $500 to what a parent or household receives, albeit there would be a three-dependent limit. However, unlike the CARES Act, dependents aged 17 and over can qualify to provide a parent or household with this $500 kicker.
2. Getting America Back to Work Act
Although a majority of these proposals are from Democrats, the Getting America Back to Work Act comes from Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri. The idea here is to provide a refundable payroll tax rebate that'll cover up to 80% of employer payroll costs, applicable up to the median wage. Even though this isn't going to put money into the pockets of working Americans, it's going to lower costs for employers to retain their staff and presumably make it easier for businesses to ramp up activity once states are fully open again.
3. Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act
The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, as the name implies, aims to legally allow renters and lenders to forgo their housing payments for one year without it adversely affecting their credit scores. The bill, introduced by Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), would instruct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create a fund that'd be responsible for paying landlords and mortgage holders to help cover their lost rental and mortgage payments.
4. Sen. Sherrod Brown's call for quarterly direct stimulus payments
According to Ohio news station WLWT, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) plans to propose a second stimulus package that would pay $2,000 per individual every quarter. This echoes a proposal that Brown and a few colleagues introduced in March prior to the passage of the CARES Act, which called for an initial payment of $2,000, a potential second payment of $1,500, and, if needed, quarterly payouts of $1,000 per person.
Brown's quarterly payout proposal is unique in that most existing stimulus efforts call for a monthly payment.
5. HEROES Act
The 1,815-page Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, has been getting a lot of attention lately. Coming in at a $3 trillion cost, it's not hard to see why. Aside from providing $1 trillion to states, $200 billion to provide hazard pay to essential workers, and extending unemployment benefit protections through January 2021 (the extra $600 per week is set to end after July 31, 2020), it would also provide up to $1,200 per taxpayer and up to $6,000 per household.
While the payouts per individual and income eligibility requirements are the same as under the CARES Act, dependents are each worth up to $1,200 in added payout, rather than $500, with a limit of three dependents. Thus, a married couple filing jointly with three kids can net up $6,000, as opposed to $3,900 under the CARES Act.
Additionally, dependents of all ages, not just those aged 16 and under, would qualify their parent or household for this extra $1,200 (up to the limit of three dependents).
The HEROES Act was passed in the House by a relatively party-line vote of 217 in favor to 189 opposed last Friday, May 15. However, the Republican-led Senate has suggested the bill is dead on arrival in its current form.
6. Automatic Boost to Communities Act
Another proposal making its rounds in Washington, D.C., is the Automatic Boost to Communities (ABC) Act, which was introduced by Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Under the ABC Act, individuals would receive $2,000 monthly during a defined payment period (lasting at least a year), with U.S. citizens, residents, and nonresident aliens in the country for at least three months all eligible for the payout. Making nonresident aliens eligible is what really allows the ABC Act to stand out from a crowded field of proposals.
It should also be noted that dependents would add $2,000 each during this initial payment period. Thus, a couple with two children would receive a whopping $8,000 monthly payment.
Furthermore, the ABC Act provides a recurring payout of $1,000 per eligible individual (and a $1,000 kicker for each dependent) for one year following the end of the payment period. Thus, we're talking about stimulus that would last two years.
Payments could be made traditionally (e.g., via direct deposit) or with a BOOST prepaid debit card for those without a bank account.
7. Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act
Finally, the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, introduced by Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), aims to provide eligible individuals with $2,000 per month, or $4,000 for couples filing jointly. Like the ABC Act, it would also allow the addition of $2,000 to what a parent or household receives on a monthly basis per qualified dependent, up to a limit of three dependents. Under this scenario, a married couple with three children would receive up to $10,000 monthly. These payments would continue until three months after the coronavirus emergency has ended.
Under the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, single, married, and head-of-household filers with AGI's over $100,000, $200,000, and $150,000 would respectively see reduced payouts. Nonresident aliens would be disqualified from receiving a payment.
The only question now is, which of these seven proposals do you believe has the best chance of helping heal America?