by Maurie Backman | Jan. 27, 2021
The president still wants to see those $1,400 checks go out to the public.
President Joe Biden is committed to providing relief during the pandemic. He's already signed a number of executive orders targeting food benefits and unemployment rights. And he's of course continuing to push his $1.9 trillion relief proposal, known as the American Rescue Plan, which includes enhanced unemployment benefits and a round of $1,400 stimulus checks.
Americans have already been privy to two stimulus rounds. The first, under the CARES Act, was worth up to $1,200 per eligible recipient. The second round, however, was stingier, coming in at just $600. Given that many Americans have depleted their savings and are racking up scores of debt just to stay afloat, Biden wants those $1,400 checks to go out quickly. But he still needs buy-in from lawmakers for that to happen, and some have made it clear that they feel Biden's aid isn't targeted enough.
There's concern that a fresh round of $1,400 stimulus checks could land in the pockets of many people who don't need them. In fact, if the phase-out system that's applied to stimulus payments in the past is used for this upcoming round, it could end up being the case that families earning $300,000 a year could be eligible for stimulus checks.
Clearly, that's not ideal, as stimulus checks are supposed to help those who are struggling, and it's fair to say that the typical household earning $300,000 is in decent shape. The problem, of course, is that setting up new parameters for stimulus eligibility is not only cumbersome, but could also result in a massive delay in getting those payments out.
Earlier in the week, a bipartisan group of senators expressed concern that Biden's relief plan isn't targeted enough. Some lawmakers, in fact, are calling for a follow-up stimulus round to go out to the jobless only. But technically, even that step won't necessarily exclude households earning $300,000 a year, or somewhere in that vicinity. Case in point: It's more than possible for a given household to have one person earning $300,000, and another person to be laid off and eligible for unemployment benefits.
One solution could be to implement a hard cut off for stimulus eligibility rather than work with the phase-out limits that have applied for the two previous stimulus rounds. In other words, lawmakers could decide that single tax-filers earning above $75,000 and married couples filing joint returns earning above $150,000 get no stimulus at all, as opposed to a partial payment like they would've been eligible for in the past. Or, it's possible to just lower the income thresholds for stimulus payments altogether so that, as an example, only single tax-filers earning $50,000 or less and married filers earning $100,000 or less would get that money.
There are a number of different combinations to play around with, but the problem is that the more lawmakers attempt to solve the problem of targeted aid, the more those $1,400 checks are likely to be delayed. And given the number of people who desperately need that money, that's not a good thing at all.
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