It’s no secret that in modern society, everyone is incredibly overexposed to news and media. For nearly a year now, buried beneath news of a pandemic, wildfires, and elections, has been the consistent talk of government stimulus checks in the United States. But what is a stimulus check? What’s the controversy with the federal government? How much should the checks be worth? Let’s break it down.
What Is A Stimulus Check?
Stimulus checks are varying amounts of money sent by the US government to American taxpayers when the country is in economic distress. The goal of these checks is to stimulate movement of money within the economic system, and are often a part of a larger stimulus package. This has occurred on multiple occasions, including during the 2008 recession, and again in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The First Round
The first batch of stimulus checks came after the government enacted a $2 trillion economic stimulus package on March 27th, 2020, the largest emergency aid package in United States history. The legislation provided individuals with a $75,000 or less adjusted gross income with payments of $1,200. Married couples and those with children earned slightly higher amounts, and the checks were sent directly to these qualifying citizens.
The Latest Controversy
A second relief package was signed by President Trump on December 27th, this one for $900 billion. The original bill provided $600 checks for adults making $75,000 or less, or $2,400 for families for four where both adults make less than $150,000. President Trump called for the amount to be increased to $2,000, and $4,000 for families. The vote was passed in the House of Representatives, but was blocked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate. Senate Republicans pushed back against a larger stimulus bill due to the cost, as the package would have increased by around $380 billion. The amount has yet to be changed.
So, $600 is being sent to those making $75,000 or less, and this amount decreases by $5 for every $100 of income earned above that number. One change in this second round of stimulus is that dependent children under the age of seventeen will also earn $600. Single adults earning above $87,000, or couples earning above $174,000, will receive no stimulus checks.
Is It Enough?
Both media and everyday Americans have criticized the US federal government for not doing enough to aid US citizens through this time period. After months of financial struggle, $600 is not nearly sufficient to provide safety and security to the many Americans who have been struggling to pay rent and provide food for their families. With no definite end in sight to the damaging Covid-19 pandemic, the government desperately needs to come up with a better plan to provide assistance to the 332 million people who are relying on it. Democratic success in the Georgia run-off election means the senate is now split 50-50, and with Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote, a third stimulus bill could be passed in the coming months with larger checks in store.