by Dana George | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on March 26, 2021
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We don't have a crystal ball, but we do have several predictions as to whether this is our last direct stimulus payment.
As a new round of stimulus checks hit bank accounts and mailboxes across the country, there's talk of another direct stimulus payment in the wings. Will it happen? We've come up with three reasons to believe another check is in our future and three reasons to think it won't happen.
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As the vaccine rollout takes hold across the country, there is reason to believe that Congress will continue to stimulate the economy until it can stand on its own.
50 Democratic U.S. representatives signed a letter asking President Joe Biden to issue recurring checks to help Americans cover their basic needs throughout the pandemic. The letter outlined the necessity for more funds to those who need them most, saying that "one more check is not enough during this public health and economic crisis." Big names -- like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders -- urged recurring direct payments by adding, "This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads."
While some argue that the need is not significant enough for another round of stimulus payments, it is difficult to argue the number of American families who have been financially decimated by the pandemic.
By March 9, 2021, 70% of Americans surveyed by Pew Research Center favored the president's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, designed to provide economic aid to individuals, businesses, state, and local governments. In a world split by partisan divides, getting 70% of Americans to agree on any one subject is rare -- rare enough to wonder if there might be the same kind of support for another round of checks.
During his time as vice president under President Barack Obama, Biden was once faced with healing an economy deeply damaged by The Great Recession. Although the Obama administration managed to usher through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, critics spent years insisting that the stimulus package was too small and suspecting that a larger stimulus package would have hastened the economic recovery. That's a hard-earned lesson that Biden is not likely to forget. He responded to a recent critic of his policies by saying, "The one thing we learned is we can't do too much here. We can do too little."
We don't own a crystal ball, but we have several reasons to suspect that the current stimulus checks might be the last. Here are our reasons:
The new president dreamed of ushering in a time of relative peace and unity. Unfortunately, he's dealing with politicians accustomed to playing to cable news anchors and scoring points with their political base. The American Rescue Plan Act was not passed with bipartisan support. Not a single Republican voted for the bill, and Democrats were forced to use a parliamentary procedure called budget reconciliation to pass the stimulus package with a simple majority. With the president hoping to tackle significant issues, like healthcare, climate change, and infrastructure in the future, it's difficult to imagine Democrats getting another stimulus package passed. It's even more difficult to imagine any Republicans crossing the aisle to support more aid to the American people.
Concern regarding the national debt waxes and wanes. Congress goes on spending sprees, then pulls back, suddenly concerned about the national debt. Ironically, each political party seems most concerned when the opposition holds the majority. Any serious discussion of another stimulus package is sure to be met with renewed outrage over the national debt.
As more Americans get coronavirus vaccines in their arms, optimism is sure to increase. If that optimism leads to more people shopping in brick-and-mortar stores and dining in restaurants, that means more people can get back to work. The more people who get back to work, the more optimism will grow. Optimism tends to swallow discouragement, and if this happens, there will be a reduced appetite for another round of stimulus.
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