AS MILLIONS of Americans still wait for their third stimulus check, speculation over a potential fourth round of economic support is heating up.
Despite cases on the rise in the U.S, and the pandemic-stricken economy still not fully recovered, Americans have been warned not to bank on another payment.
More than 60 members of Congress are pressing President Joe Biden to support a fourth stimulus checkCredit: Splash
Speculation over a potential fourth round of economic support is heating upCredit: Getty
Online searches for the phrase “fourth stimulus check” have escalated over the past few weeks, according to Google Trends.
More than 60 members of Congress are pressing President Biden to support a fourth stimulus check, because they say many Americans are still struggling a year into the COVID -19 crisis.
However economists projecting growth following President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill have said the odds of a fourth stimulus check are still very much unknown – but unlikely.
The Biden administration is focussing on the American Rescue Plan’s $1,400 direct payments and efforts to boost tax credits, jobless aid and small businesses, two massive proposals in the works do not include new stimulus checks.
Biden plans to discuss an infrastructure bill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, and lawmakers expect another proposal centered on child care and education in April.
Democratic U.S. representatives and members of the U.S. Senate have signed letters urging the Biden administration to support regular stimulus checks to help Americans cover essential needs as long as the coronavirus threat endures.
“One more check is not enough during this public health and economic crisis,” says the letter from the House Democrats.
It does’t suggest a dollar amount for recurring payments, but Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted in January that the government should provide $2,000 per month to carry people through the pandemic.
In their letter, the senators – including Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders – wrote the crisis is far from over, “and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.”
It is understoodd lawmakers may revisit another round of pandemic-linked stimulus checks after assessing Biden’s plan once extended unemployment benefits expire in September.
But economists say the administration has shifted its target toward longer-term goals, with Biden and some progressives hoping to seize a generational opportunity to overhaul the economy and revitalize the workforce.
Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi told Fortune: “These packages will be designed to address long-term economic problems such as infrastructure, climate change and the skewed income and wealth distribution.”
“I wouldn’t consider these packages as fiscal stimulus, designed to support the economy in the short-term. I don’t think there will be a fourth round of stimulus checks.”
Brett Ryan, the senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, offered Fortune an even more blunt assessment: “No more checks.”
He added: “I would say that this is definitely going to be less about direct income support — which the latest $1.9 trillion plan kind of gets you through this transition period where the economy’s reopening — and more about, as Biden said, building back better.”
Many Americans have used their aid money for groceries, rent and other basic needs, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study based on how last year’s first, $1,200 stimulus checks were spent.
The cash also has gone toward saving and investing, the BLS found.
Some also likely went towards affordable life insurance, after a surge in demand during the pandemic.
The Internal Revenue Service has already sent 127 million checks in the latest stimulus round, with more heading to millions of Americans in the coming weeks.
The $325 billion-plus expenditure follows rounds of $1,200 and $600 checks under the Trump administration last year.
Stanley Litow, a professor at Columbia and Duke said: “There will likely need to be further stimulus spending in the hundreds of billion dollars.”
However Republicans opposed the third checks as expensive and unnecessary, and moderate Democrats may feel that way about any further payments.
They demanded changes for the third round, to “target” the stimulus checks toward the neediest Americans.
Biden’s next recovery plans may cost between $3 trillion and $4 trillion, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The president wants to invest in rebuilding roads, bridges and new green infrastructure that he says will create jobs, along with child care and education including universal preschool and free community college.
While Democrats may garner bipartisan support for an infrastructure bill, they’ll face stiffer challenges trying inject more cash into the economy and Americans’ pockets, especially before the latest unemployment benefits expire in September.