Home Coronavirus/Covid-19 Debating Stimulus Checks – The New York Times

Debating Stimulus Checks – The New York Times

by World Health Now
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First, the basic facts: Because the virus-response bill that passed in December included $600 checks, Biden is now proposing $1,400 checks, with bonuses for children. A typical family with two parents and three children could receive $4,600. Families making less than $150,000 a year would likely be eligible for the full amount.

1. People need help. Almost 10 million fewer Americans are working now than when the pandemic began, and normal life is still months from returning. “Doing too little has enormous downside cost,” Sharon Parrott, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told me.

Many households are also coping with the long-term effects of slow-growing incomes and wealth over the past four decades. The checks will let people decide for themselves how to spend the money — be it to cover medical expenses, pay tuition, save for retirement or buy a car. Much of this spending will stimulate the economy and create jobs.

2. It’s simple. At a time when many people don’t trust the government, easy-to-understand policies can build trust. Matthew Yglesias, author of the Slow Boring newsletter, calls this the “does exactly what it says on the tin” principle. The Obama administration designed a complex stimulus program in 2009 and didn’t get much political credit for it. The Biden administration can heed this lesson.

3. It’s surprisingly progressive. A $4,600 check means much more to a poor or working-class family than it does to an upper-middle-class family. (Very affluent families don’t qualify for the checks.)

Consider this chart, which shows how the two rounds of pandemic checks that the government sent last year — equaling $1,800 combined for many people — affected after-tax incomes:

The checks will be a central part of the debate over Biden’s first virus bill. Many Senate Republicans oppose the checks, which means they may fall short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

In that case, Democrats would have to choose between altering their plan and passing the bill through a process known as reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes.

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