With negotiations for the second stimulus check well underway, there are still multiple proposals on the table — but which one is the best? While the United States Senate seems to be focusing mostly on the Health, Economic Assistance Liability Protection and Schools Act (HEALS Act) there is still plenty of room for other proposals to make their way into the discussion.
Lawmakers have been preparing their plans for a second stimulus check for months now, knowing that the coronavirus pandemic would likely impact the American economy for years to come. While the U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act back in May, the Senate ignored it, waiting until last month to make a counter-offer. This left little time for debate, as millions of unemployed Americans struggle to pay for housing, food and other necessities.
In recent months 30 million workers have lost their jobs and their income. Many struggle to put food on the table. This week the Senate must pass a bill to fully extend unemployment benefits, provide a $2,000 monthly stipend and guarantee health care for the length of the crisis.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 19, 2020
Of all their differences, however, the HEALS Act and the HEROES Act have one major thing in common — their stimulus check. The provision for a one-time economic impact payment of up to $1,200 per person is very similar in the two different bills. It is the other items on the list that are holding up negotiations.
While most lawmakers seem content to pass a one-time payment of this size now, it is by no means the only proposal on the table. Other lawmakers across both parties and both legislatures have written solid proposals for other stimulus checks. Some could put far more money in the pockets of the American people, and some could put less.
As debates over the stimulus check heat up and a deadline approaches, the confusion makes the field seem even more wide open for alternate stimulus check proposals at times. Here is a breakdown of the various possibilities under consideration and how much each one would payout.
Leading the pack is the HEALS Act, written by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with input from Trump administration advisers. Although McConnell hinted early on that he wanted to constrict eligibility for the stimulus check, the final bill he revealed proposed a payment nearly identical to the first stimulus check. It is worth $1,200 for any individual taxpayer who made $75,000 or less on their last tax filing. The money reduces incrementally for anyone with a gross annual income above that, ending completely at $98,000.
The HEALS Act even addresses one of the major problems with the first stimulus check: adult dependents. It allows Americans to get a $500 credit not just for minors that they claim as dependents, but for adults too, such as elderly family members or college students. While many adult dependents hoped that they would get a stimulus check themselves this time around, at least this would give the families something.
Under the HEALS Act, the income thresholds and payouts are doubled for those that file taxes jointly with a spouse or partner. In addition, the $500 dependent credit has a maximum of two per family, meaning the most a family could receive is $3,400.prevnext
Coronavirus Assistance for American Families Act
A last-minute contender for the new stimulus check comes from Sen. Mitt Romney, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Bill Cassidy and Sen. Steve Daines, according to a report by Forbes. It is called the Coronavirus Assistance for American Families Act, and it would provide a one-time stimulus check worth $1,000.
This proposal would follow the same income thresholds listed above for the HEALS Act and would have the same restrictions on just two dependents. However, the dependents credit would also be worth $1,000, meaning that a family of four would ultimately get more money under this bill — up to $4,000. Adult dependents are also counted under this bill.prevnext
President Donald Trump's Proposal
As recently as last Wednesday, July 29, President Donald Trump suggested that the second stimulus check could be worth more than $1,200 before the negotiations are finished. The president has spoken out in favor of stimulus checks — along with a number of other economic relief measures. Many analysts believe that Trump is eager to get as much money into Americans' pockets as possible in the hopes that it will help his chances at re-election.
"We're going to see, it may go higher than [$1,200], actually," Trump told Texas news station WMID. "I'd like to see it be very high because I love the people. I want the people to get it, you know. The economy is going to come back. We just had tremendous job numbers as you know it was just announced. We had great retail sales numbers, so this is all coming back. We had the greatest economy we've ever had and we had to close it up because you know we had to do it. We saved millions of lives by doing that, but now we're bringing it back and now it's going to come back. We gotta take care of the people in the meantime."
While Trump did not cite any specific measures he is taking to make this happen, the president has a clear influence on the Senate Republicans, as his cabinet members held up the writing of the HEALS Act itself. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both worked with McConnell on the bill.prevnext
Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act
Although they are the minority party in the Senate, Democrats there are still fighting for the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act — perhaps the bill that would provide the biggest stimulus check out of every proposal on the table right now. Written by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Ed Markey, the bill calls for a stimulus check worth up to $2,000 per person, sent out every month until the coronavirus pandemic has been officially over for at least three months. The plan is written to include immigrants, and has higher income thresholds for eligibility.
Anyone who made $100,000 or less on their last tax filing would get the full amount of this monthly stimulus check. The payment would decrease incrementally up to a gross annual income of $120,000, at which point there would be none. As it is written, this bill is also retroactive back to March, so right off the bat Americans would be paid as much as $10,000 in stimulus money.
There has been little support for this bill outside of the circle of Senate Democrats who first endorsed it — and, of course, the outspoken support of those on social media. However, Sanders, Harris and Markey have continued to advocate for it at least on principle, to remind Americans how much more they believe they deserve.prevnext
The Senate is also unlikely to revisit the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act — or, HEROES Act — in their negotiations. However, it is a good illustration of where the two sides are starting from on this debate. Democrats' last stimulus bill called for a one-time $1,200 stimulus bill, but with more generous eligibility terms.
Under the HEROES Act, the $500 credit for dependents would have been raised to a full $1,200, and both minors and adults would have been eligible. The bill also took steps to make sure immigrants were included in the payments, smoothing out issues from the first round.prevnext
On Monday night, Trump weighed in on the stimulus debate again, saying he might try to force some provisions through with an executive order, meaning he would not need approval from Congress or the Senate. According to a report by The Washington Post, Trump told White House press corps reporters he was thinking about ordering a moratorium on evictions, and perhaps a payroll tax cut as well.
A lot of people are going to be evicted but I'm going to stop it because I'll do it myself if I have to," the president said. "I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders, and we're looking at that very seriously right now." He also mentioned a move to stop people from being put into homeless shelters, saying: "they are thrown out viciously. It's not their fault."
Analysts questioned whether Trump's ideas here would be allowed under the U.S. Constitution and whether they would have any real effect. The moratorium on evictions passed under the CARES Act in March lasts through Aug. 24, although the protection against late fees expired on July 25. However, even these measures did not protect everyone, as they could only apply to properties whose mortgages were backed by the federal government. Trump could extend these, but to do anything more might not fit under an executive order.
Regardless, Trump's talk of an executive order led some to begin wondering how else he might try to use the power if the negotiations continue to be unproductive. As noted above, the president has said he wants to issue as large a stimulus check as possible, and this might be how he tries to do it.prevnext
On top of all of these proposals and provisions, there is one more vital factor lawmakers have to consider: time. The stimulus bill is already overdue, with some key programs of the CARES Act expiring, and Americans are desperate for more aid.
Beyond that, Congress has already delayed its scheduled August recess to continue these debates. There is no hint that the Senate will do the same, as they are scheduled to break for three weeks starting on Friday, Aug. 7. If an agreement is not reached by then, lawmakers will have to wait until after Labor Day to gather again.prev