by Maurie Backman | Jan. 25, 2021
Americans need relief, but not all lawmakers agree on the scope.
Since taking office last week, President Joe Biden has already signed a number of executive orders designed to provide aid to the public in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. These orders covered enhanced food benefits, protections for jobless workers, and expedited stimulus payments for those who never received their money under the two rounds that already went out (the first for $1,200 and the second for $600).
Meanwhile, Biden is pushing for a second round of $1,400 stimulus checks in his new $1.9 trillion relief proposal known as the American Rescue Plan. The last round of $600 stimulus payments was slammed by a number of lawmakers as stingy given the greater economic crisis at hand, and many, at the time, wanted to see those payments boosted.
At this point, many Americans have exhausted their savings and are relying on credit cards just to stay afloat. This includes unemployed workers as well as those who are still working but have seen their hours or income take a substantial hit.
A round of $1,400 payments would no doubt help many people catch up on bills and keep up with ongoing expenses. But some lawmakers are expressing concern over Biden's latest stimulus proposal and think a massive round of $1,400 payments is going overboard.
Yesterday, a bipartisan group of 16 senators expressed concern to White House officials that Biden's relief plan provides too much aid to Americans who don't need it. While the group supports added spending on vaccine distribution, it feels that Biden's proposed stimulus checks are misguided.
This isn't the first time lawmakers have insisted that stimulus checks need to be more targeted going forward so they land in the pockets of those who need that money the most. But figuring out who those people are and implementing a set of criteria for distributing that money is no easy task.
Some lawmakers have argued that only the jobless should be entitled to another stimulus round. But some people collecting unemployment benefits don't necessarily need that money. For example, it's conceivable that a laid-off hotel manager who lost a $70,000 a year salary and is collecting jobless benefits is married to someone who's retained a $250,000 attorney's salary.
Similarly, being employed doesn't equate to financial security. It's possible that someone lost a $150,000-a-year job, collected unemployment benefits for a while, and then took a job paying $75,000 to get health insurance and a steady paycheck. A household in that scenario could easily be struggling right now.
As such, while targeted aid makes a lot of sense and could cut the $1.9 trillion price tag attached to Biden's proposal down significantly, pulling off that aid is easier said than done. And while cutting the next round of stimulus checks could also help keep the cost of the bill at a more moderate level, that also means desperate Americans would get less of a lifeline. Unfortunately, there's no easy answer, but it is easy to see why lawmakers have concerns over Biden's well-meaning yet ambitious relief proposal.
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