Stimulus Checks: Conan O'Brien Takes Jab at How Americans Are Spending Their Payments

Stimulus checks are on the mind of many U.S. citizens at the moment, as recipients across he country anxiously await for the payment's arrival. It's also inspired a little bit of humor, as Conan O'Brien demonstrated on Twitter Wednesday.

On Twitter, he joked that the economic stimulus plan granted "every American a podcast and an Etsy store." The stimulus, which guarantees $1,200 to most residents of the U.S. who make under $75,000 annually, or $150,000 as a couple. That amount gets gradually scaled back the more income was reported on someone's most recent tax filing. While the pandemic has impacted millions stateside so far, the notion of how people planned to spend the money already became a meme weeks ago.

O'Brien, like a lot of late-night hosts, has adapted to life in self-quarantine by doing his show from his own home while interviewing guests remotely. Prior to the social distancing guidelines, guest Timothy Olyphant even had a memorable appearance as a guest back on March 12, where he compulsively sanitized all surfaces around him out of precaution for coronavirus. One day later, President Donald Trump had declared the pandemic to be a national emergency.

The humor aside, the one-time payment of $1,200 has largely been seen as ineffective. Particularly for anyone who's lost their job or been unable to work to do countless businesses closing their doors nationwide in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. There has been some talk of a second stimulus package, and despite early support from President Donald Trump, on Tuesday he appeared to pivot to talk of a payroll tax cut instead.

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"I like the idea of payroll tax cuts," Trump said on Tuesday at the near-daily coronavirus briefing. If enacted, these cuts would reduce (or temporarily eliminate) payments made to Medicare and Social Security, which are paid by both employers and employees. While it would mean some extra money per paycheck, it wouldn't benefit the millions who've filed for unemployment, and would disproportionately help the wealthy, as they have higher incomes.

Jason Furman, who worked as an economist under President Barack Obama, told Business Insider back in March that such a tax cut would be a "slow drip" that wouldn't help jump-start the economy. "If policymakers wanted to get $800 billion to households, roughly the cost of a payroll tax holiday, then the money would be better spent as a $2,500 check per person than a payroll tax holiday."