Republican Proposal Leaves 29 Million Ineligible for Stimulus Checks

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Feb. 3, 2021

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Newspaper headlines about a stimulus plan and a $100 bill.

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President Biden wants $1,400 stimulus checks for the public. Republicans want to narrow the scope of that aid.

Millions of Americans have been having a difficult time making ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic. So far, there's been some relief available -- notably, two rounds of stimulus checks worth $1,200 and $600, respectively. And now, President Joe Biden is pushing a $1.9 trillion relief package that includes a third round of stimulus cash, this time in the amount of $1,400 per eligible recipient.

Republican lawmakers, however, have already expressed concern that Biden's plan is too broad. Specifically, they'd rather see more targeted stimulus payments go out to the public in an effort to conserve spending and ensure that the money lands in the bank accounts of those who really need it. Their latest counteroffer, however, would leave an estimated 29 million people out in the cold with regard to more stimulus money.

Cutting off aid for the wealthier

Part of the reason so many Americans have been eligible for stimulus aid in the past is that the income thresholds for it have been rather generous. Single tax filers earning $75,000 or less have been able to receive a full stimulus, as have jointly filing couples earning $150,000 or less.

What Republican lawmakers are looking to do this time around is lower those earnings thresholds to $50,000 for single tax filers and $100,000 for couples filing jointly. This way, higher earners, who are less likely to need that money, will be shut out.

Roughly 78% of U.S. families would qualify for a third stimulus payment under the Republican proposal, according to a preliminary analysis by The Penn Wharton Budget Model. By contrast, 95% would be eligible under Biden's plan.

Not only are Republicans looking to exclude higher-income households from getting a third stimulus, but they're also seeking to send out less money to begin with. Their new proposal calls for a round of $1,000 checks, which is $400 less per person than what Biden wants to distribute.

Of course, both proposals are far more generous than the most recent round of $600 stimulus checks -- a sum that was blasted by many lawmakers as being far too stingy given the economic crisis at play. Biden is still pushing for $1,400 payments but has said he's open to scaling down those payments for higher-earning families. However, he's opposed to limiting stimulus checks to those who are unemployed.

Though some lawmakers have argued that stimulus cash should be reserved for the jobless, Biden feels strongly that having a paycheck does not equate to financial stability. A lot of people have lost income during the pandemic and/or have taken on additional expenses like extra childcare to help cope with the situation. It's these people, Biden argues, who deserve a stimulus check, even if they're not necessarily collecting jobless benefits.

Biden recently sat down with Republican lawmakers in an effort to hash out their concerns and move a relief plan forward. Last year, the public waited months for lawmakers to come to terms on a second stimulus agreement, and that's a scenario Biden does not wish to repeat.

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