Millions of Americans benefited from the first round of COVID-19 stimulus checks and are hoping that a second round of checks will happen. There have been some conflicting signals over the past few months about whether that will occur, but it’s looking more likely. Here are six reasons why.
The Democratic-controlled House has already passed a second stimulus package, and it included an expanded pool of people getting a second stimulus check. But any plan has to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate. As a result, if a second round of checks is passed, it’s likely to be a smaller amount or lower threshold than the Democratic plan suggested. For example, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has floated the possibility of a $40,000 income cut off for a second check.
The first stimulus checks were passed by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, “which included nearly $500 billion in direct income transfers for families across the country,” according to the Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University
Still, things are looking more positive for those Americans needing a second check.
Here are six signs a second round of checks is likely:
1. President Trump Is On Board
Without President Donald Trump on board with a second COVID-19 stimulus check, it would have a lot tougher time making it through the Republican-controlled Senate. However, Trump has signaled strongly that he supports another check.
Trump said recently, “We will be doing another stimulus package, it will be very good, very generous.” Asked if there would be a second check, Trump also said, “We are, we are” and said it would be “very dramatic, very good.”
2. The Senate Majority Leader Says Senate Republicans Want a Second Check
All eyes are on Mitch McConnell, the powerful Senate Majority leader who is controlling the process in the Senate. His rhetoric has gotten more positive about another stimulus check in July.
According to the Hill, McConnell made his strongest comments about a second stimulus check yet on July 21, saying, “Speaking of building on what worked in the CARES Act, we want another round of direct payments, direct payments to help American families keep driving our national comeback.”
McConnell didn’t specific income eligibility or amount, but there’s some indication Republicans could support a lower amount in addition to a lower income threshold. “Most Republicans want a lower income threshold to qualify for a potential second round of payments,” ABC13 reported.
In the first round of checks, Americans received checks if they earned between $75,000 and $99,000 in slowly reduced amounts, starting at a 1,200 payment.
McConnell is now “predicting” that a second COVID-19 stimulus “rescue package” will happen, and he said it “could well” include second direct stimulus check payments to some Americans. According to Bloomberg, McConnell said: “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.”
McConnell’s comments came on July 6 in Kentucky, his home state. McConnell said, “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. And many of them work in the hospitality industry.” He said the hospitality industry, hotels, restaurants, was hit hard. He added that the Senate will consider a proposal July 20.
Asked specifically whether there will be direct funding to individuals (a second stimulus check), he said, “could well,” and made the above comment, adding, “that could well be a part of it.”
Back in May, McConnell was sounding a different tune. McConnell pronounced the Democratic plan “dead on arrival” back in May.
3. Trump’s Poll Numbers Aren’t Great
Some experts believe that Republicans will feel more pressure to grant a second stimulus check because Trump’s poll numbers aren’t great right now, and, thus, the president can’t risk angering Americans by not providing more relief (and conversely might be seen more positively in voters’ minds by granting it.)
Democratic challenger Joe Biden has an average 8.6% lead over Trump in national polling, according to RealClearPolitics. Even more crucially, polling in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Florida shows Biden with a commanding lead.
The Washington Post reported: “President Trump has told aides he is largely supportive of sending Americans another round of stimulus checks, expressing the belief that the payments will boost the economy and help his chances at reelection in November.”
4. COVID-19 Is Spiking in Many States
A waning virus would obviously provide less justification for another round of stimulus checks. However, that’s not happening, unfortunately. Coronavirus is spiking in many states around the country, such as Texas and Florida.
As of July 18, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting 3,630,587 total cases in the U.S., with 74,710 new cases, and 138,782 deaths with 918 new deaths.
5. Jobless Claims, Bankruptcies & Retail Sales Indicate the Economy Needs Another Boost
According to Forbes, both jobless claims and retail sales make the case for another stimulus check because recent numbers show the economy is “stalling.” In addition, corporate bankruptcies are spiking. McConnell had said previously that he wanted to see where things were at in July.
In July, the U.S. retail sales showed 7.3% growth but that was down from 18.2%. People have spent the first stimulus checks in many cases now, Forbes explained.
As for jobless claims, according to Forbes, “the U.S. initial jobless claims came in at 1.3 million against the forecast of 1.25 million.” This wasn’t terrible because it improved over forecasts, but only slightly. According to Forbes, the jobless number are bad enough to justify another check but because there was slight improvement, it’s possible the amount could be less or go to fewer people.
6. The Treasury Secretary Supports Another Check
A chorus of very powerful economic voices supports another check, and they’re people who matter. The Washington Post reported in late June that those voices include Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, seems more supportive of a payroll tax cut.
Mnuchin spoke in favor of a second stimulus check at a GOP Senate luncheon. “He just said that when he went around the country, people came up and thanked him for it. It seemed to have made a difference to them,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told reporters, according to The Washington Post.