Some American families could receive retroactive payments in the tens of thousands of dollars if the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act stimulus plan makes it through Congress. The bill was introduced in May by Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey. It proposes monthly recurring payments to Americans until the coronavirus pandemic is over — and it also promises retroactive payments back to March, when the pandemic began. Now that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has selected Harris as his running mate, this proposal could begin to pick up more momentum.
According to the act’s one-pager, the proposal would send $2,000 per month to individuals and $4,000 to married couples who file jointly, along with an additional $2,000 per child, up to three children. Any individual earning under $120,000 would be eligible; the payments would be reduced for income over $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 for married couples. The payments would be phased out by 10% of any amount over these limits.
Markey confirmed in August that the retroactive nature of this bill still applies, many months later. He tweeted, “My bill with @kamalaharris and @berniesanders to give everyone $2,000/month until the end of this crisis (and 3 months after) is retroactive to March. Working families deserve this money. Let’s get that $12,000 into their pockets ASAP, and then keep the money flowing.”
This means that a family of five could receive a first monthly payment of over $50,000 if the plan passes. An individual could receive over $12,000 in their first payment if their annual income is below $100,000.
Here’s what you need to know:
How Retroactive Payments Would Work in This Stimulus Plan
The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act is notable for more reasons than the notion of recurring monthly payments. In particular, it would provide these payments both retroactively and into the future: eligible Americans would receive their monthly amount “retroactively,” meaning that they would receive $2,000 a month (or whatever they are eligible for) for every month that has passed since the pandemic began in March. It’s not clear if they’d receive this retroactive sum in a single lump payment or if it would be divided in some manner over a period of time.
In addition, Americans would receive checks until three months after the pandemic is over, as declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, according to the bill’s text.
The current atmosphere in Congress is not friendly to the idea of monthly recurring payments for the American people. Republican and Democratic lawmakers haven’t yet been able to compromise on the details of the HEALS Act, and that proposal would provide much less financial support to individuals and families. The dollar figure for this monthly payment stimulus plan is estimated to be at $5.7 trillion, Forbes reported; in comparison, the CARES Act, which offered stimulus payments and many other forms of economic relief in March, cost about $2 trillion.
However, Biden’s decision to make Harris his running mate means that this plan could pass in Congress after November — if Biden wins the presidency and the Senate goes blue.
Married couples with a combined income of $200,000 or less with three or more children would receive the maximum amount of $10,000 a month, as well as the retroactive payment of $50,000, or more. They would not have to have Social Security numbers or to have filed a tax return recently, both stipulations that were requirements in the first round of stimulus payments. Creditors would also be barred from collecting any of this money for repayments.
What Does Biden Think of Monthly Stimulus Payments? Does He Support This Plan?
Though Biden has selected Harris as his running mate, he has kept particularly tight-lipped regarding where he stands on economic relief during the pandemic. Biden’s official website indicates he would do the following to remedy the pandemic-induced crisis in America:
- Provide another stimulus check “should conditions require”
- Forgive $10,000 per person of federal student loans, minimum
- Increase monthly Social Security checks by $200 each
- Offer emergency paid sick leave to every American worker
- Ensure that no one has to pay out of pocket for COVID-19 testing, treatment, or any future relevant vaccine
- Provide “all necessary fiscal relief”
Biden has not been specific regarding the amount, eligibility requirements or frequency of future stimulus payments. His silence inspired hundreds of thousands of people to sign a petition demanding he publicly endorse a plan like Harris’ that would provide a form of universal basic income until the crisis is over. As of August 16, the petition has over 373,000 signatures.