Stimulus Check Update: Will a Fourth Stimulus Check Come From the Build Back Better Plan?

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On Wednesday, President Biden rolled out the Build Back Better Plan. How will it impact you?

As some Americans, like Social Security recipients, await their third stimulus checks, talk has already begun about a fourth check waiting in the wings. Here, we'll look at where the buzz started, if a fourth direct stimulus payment could be part of President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Plan, and whether it looks like another round of payments is realistic.

Lawmaker support

As of Tuesday, 50 Democratic members of the House of Representatives and at least 11 Democratic senators had signed a letter asking the president to support recurring payments lasting throughout the entirety of the pandemic. The letter also requested an automatic extension of unemployment insurance benefits to help replace the lost incomes of millions without jobs. This, as Biden unveils his Build Back Better Plan.

What is the Build Back Better Plan?

The president outlined his proposal for the Build Back Better Plan yesterday in Pittsburgh. While final details are worked out, here's what we know about the plan so far:

  • The plan will earmark approximately $650 billion to rebuilding a crumbling infrastructure, including roads, bridges, highways, and ports across the country
  • Around $400 billion will be dedicated to home care for the elderly and disabled, aimed at clearing a huge backlog of elderly and disabled people on Medicaid who need caretaking assistance.
  • $300 billion will go to housing infrastructure
  • $300 billion will be aimed at reviving manufacturing in the U.S.
  • "Hundreds of billions" will be needed to strengthen the country's electric grid, update and repair the nation's water system to ensure clean drinking water, and upgrade nationwide high-speed broadband
  • Another series of proposals -- also part of the Build Back Better Plan -- is scheduled to be introduced within weeks. This one will be more directly targeted at helping American families by expanding healthcare coverage and child tax benefits, and addressing paid family and medical leave.

Who will pay for the Build Back Better Plan?

The Biden administration is looking at tax hikes up to $3 trillion to pay for both parts of the plan. These hikes are primarily aimed at high-income investors and businesses that pay comparatively little in taxes. The plan is also expected to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% (which was 35% until 2017), end subsidies for fossil fuel companies, and increase the global minimum tax (the tax corporations pay, no matter which country they shift profits into) to around 21%. In other words, loopholes that the wealthiest Americans and American companies have depended on to boost income will be tightened by approximately $3 trillion, offsetting the plan's cost over 15 years.

American support

Democratic lawmaker support comes on the heels of an extraordinarily high level of public support for Biden's American Rescue Plan -- the stimulus package that birthed the current round of $1,400 direct payments to eligible Americans. A Pew Research poll found that 70% of Americans supported the bill, and Politico/Morning Consult reported that 72% of Americans they surveyed support Biden's efforts.

A U.S. Census Bureau survey conducted the last two weeks of February showed that more than half of Americans who received stimulus funds planned to use the money to pay off existing debt. While the $1,400 checks deposited into bank accounts provided a boost, it is difficult to imagine that it was enough to pull those most impacted by the coronavirus out of their financial slump.

Will a fourth stimulus check be part of the Build Back Better Plan?

If so, it will be a tough fight. Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have already said that the GOP will not support a tax increase to pay for infrastructure. Democrats, like Sen. Joe Manchin, have become increasingly critical of Biden's plans to target everyday Americans for assistance. Most tellingly, the American Rescue Plan passed only through a parliamentary procedure called "reconciliation" and was enacted without the vote of a single Republican.

We suspect that if a fourth check is introduced, it will be as part of the president's Build Back Better Plan. We also suspect that it will be an uphill battle to get enough politicians on board to pass it with bipartisan support.

If you've been financially impacted by COVID-19, visit our coronavirus hardship loan page to learn if you qualify for a loan to get you through.

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