Stimulus Check: Expert Weighs in on 'Arbitrary' Ceiling That Could Limit Payments

Now that the Senate is set to reconvene on Monday for a three-week legislative session, the pressure is on to hash out another emergency care package that will afford U.S. citizens a second stimulus check. Especially since the previous $1,200 payment that came as part of the CARES Act has come and gone — for most, anyway.

There's been some indication as to what could go into the second round of payments, though talk of a low cutoff point hasn't sat well with would-be recipients. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and White House Advisor Larry Kudlow both spoke about a $40,000 income threshold to qualify, with Kudlow saying that the spending would be kept to roughly $1 trillion, nearly half of the CARES Act. Speaking to Newsweek, Jason Furman, Barack Obama's former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, said that an "arbitrary $1 trillion ceiling then likely there would still be room for an additional round of stimulus checks, but the income cut-offs would have to be lower than the last round."

Furman did add that one possible scenario could lower the cutoff to $100,000 for joint-filers, given that IRS filings show that more than 15 million married couples filed jointly with incomes of between $100,000 to $200,000 in 2017. This limit would also be a similar cutoff point to the CARES Act, which also had a sliding scale for higher-income households.

The lower threshold for qualifications is also in direct opposition to what President Donald Trump said, who'd previously claimed the second payment would be "larger" than the first. He'd also opposed a second payment at one point, opting for a payroll tax cut instead. Which experts similarly derided as a move that would do little to jumpstart the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, McConnell reiterated that point, even as he promised to get to work on another stimulus package. "We shouldn't lightly add more to the national debt, but I'm predicting that we will have one more rescue package, which we'll begin to debate and discuss next week," he explained. "When my members come back next week, we'll start socializing it with them, begin to discuss it with the Democrats and start the legislative process. I think you can anticipate this coming to a head sometime within the next three weeks, beginning next week."