Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the government has implemented massive spending programs to keep the economy afloat amid ongoing lockdowns. One of the most momentous programs was “stimulus checks,” or direct cash payments to all Americans in the hopes that they would spend the money quickly to stimulate trade and increase cash flow.
So far, three economic stimulus payments have been sent out since the beginning of the pandemic. In March 2020, the CARES bill, signed by President Donald Trump, distributed $ 1,200 checks to all American adults within certain income limits. In December of that year, after intense negotiations between the Trump administration, Senate Republicans and the Democratic opposition, a second round of checks for $ 600 was approved.
Most recently, in March 2021, President Joe Biden approved the American Rescue Plan Act, a $ 1.9 trillion draft spending that provides $ 450 billion for a third round of stimulus payments. Under the ARPA, checks for $ 1,400 have been sent to all American adults earning less than $ 75,000 per year (or $ 150,000 per year for married couples) and their loved ones.
It has been three months since the ARPA was passed, and approximately 90 percent of eligible recipients have received their stimulus checks. While the checks are still coming, most have been received and dispensed, and calls for a fourth stimulus have been renewed in the past few weeks.
It was a sign of growing support for the stimulus check a Change.org petition, founded by a Colorado restaurant owner in the early days of the coronavirus crisis, campaigned to ensure that all Americans receive $ 2,000 monthly checks until the pandemic ended. The petition has now garnered 2.4 million signatures, one of the highest individual petitions on the organization’s website.
It’s hard to tell how real the petition is. It is unclear if all of the signatories are in the United States, and it is possible that some individuals have signed multiple times under different names. If the signatures are real, however, the proposal was supported by around 1.5 percent of American voters – a no small number in a country that decided Biden’s victory over Trump 44,000 key votes.
While Change.org’s petitions apparently have no direct impact on the legislative process, politicians who rely on the votes of stimulus proponents should be mindful. In fact, many supported the petition’s recommendations, although they did not necessarily link them directly to the petition itself. More than eighty Democrats in the House and Senate now support a fourth stimulus measure; some, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), have expressly requested $ 2000 per month payments.
Despite this support, a fourth stimulus measure is unlikely to pass Congress, which has already led Biden to withhold some of his other spending proposals. In addition, the lockdowns that incentivized shop closings and the first stimulus measures have been lifted in the United States, calling into question the need for a fourth.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer at the National interests.