Why a fourth stimulus check isn’t likely anytime soon

Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • A fourth stimulus check is unlikely given the accelerating pace of the recovery.
  • For now, Democrats have moved onto addressing evictions, among other things.
  • The White House has punted the issue and said it’s up to Congress to decide.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Stimulus checks remain popular with average Americans. Congress under both the Trump and Biden administrations issued three direct payments amounting to $3,200 for millions of Americans.

However, a fourth round is unlikely to be sent anytime soon as the economy continues regaining jobs. No lawmaker in Congress has pitched a plan so far, and congressional Democrats are squarely focused on approving President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plans this summer.

“I don’t see people advocating for another check at this moment,” Mike Konczal, director of macroeconomic analysis at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute, said in an interview. “I think the big fights are about dealing with the legacy of the pandemic, both getting vaccination rates up, dealing with evictions and foreclosures, and making sure that bottlenecks in the economy are swiftly taken care of.”

It could also crash into resistance among most Republicans and some Democrats in Congress. During negotiations for the $1.9 trillion stimulus law in March, a bloc of moderate Democrats flexed its political muscle to cut who could get a $1,400 direct payment. Centrists balked at the prospect of government cash going to households that didn’t experience job losses during the pandemic or pulled six-figure incomes.

The Biden administration has punted on whether it would back more stimulus payments, throwing the issue to lawmakers. “We’ll see what members of Congress propose, but those are not free,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a May press conference.

A White House official told Insider that the Biden administration is “committed to providing relief to the American people to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.” The official noted the stimulus law included various measures to shore up small businesses and provide rental aid, along with an expansion of the child tax credit.

“We look forward to continuing our work with Congress to implement ARP and pass the president’s full Build Back Better agenda,” the official said, referring to the American Rescue Plan.

The bulked-up child tax credit makes up a core part of Biden’s stimulus. The law transformed it into a monthly payment of either $250 or $300 for families, depending on the child’s age. Those are poised to go out on July 15 for nearly 90% of American families.

Konczal said the child allowance is capable of stabilizing incomes and cutting hunger rates once it starts reaching families. “It’s going to expand the notion of what social insurance is meant to do in a way that is profound,” Konczal said.

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