COVID-19 Stimulus Check: Retroactive Payments of $12,000 Must Come ‘ASAP,’ Senator Says


Some Americans will 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.

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.

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.

Markey got into a Twitter clash with Senator Ted Cruz about this monthly payment plan on August 10. Markey initially tweeted, “Give every person in our country $2000/month for the duration of the pandemic, $2000/month for 3 months after that, and $2000/month retroactive to March.”

In reply, Cruz wrote, “Why be so cheap? Give everyone $1 million a day, every day, forever. And three soy lattes a day. And a foot massage. We have a magic money tree — we should use it!”

Markey immediately clapped back. “It’s not a goddamn joke Ted,” he tweeted. “Millions of families are facing hunger, the threat of eviction, and the loss of their health care during a pandemic that is worsening every day. Get real.”

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.

In addition, Americans would receive checks until three months after the pandemic is “over.” None of the senators involved in this proposal have clarified what factors, economic or otherwise, would determine the “end” of the pandemic.

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 the American people. However, if Biden chooses Harris as his pick for vice president, there will likely be much more conversation around Harris’ proposed stimulus plan.

A Plan for Stimulus Checks Hasn’t Been Approved Since March

Only one stimulus package including direct economic relief has been approved so far during the pandemic. The CARES Act passed in March and provided a wide swath of Americans with payments of up to $1,200 for individuals, and $2,400 for married couples.

The most recent stimulus proposal to make it all the way to congressional negotiation is the HEALS Act. Republican and Democratic lawmakers met for negotiations all through last week and weren’t able to reach a compromise on the details of the proposal.

Eligibility for a second round of stimulus payments in the HEALS Act is based on an individual’s most recent adjusted gross income. The general structure of the stimulus check amounts under the HEALS Act, as established in the CARES Act, is:

  • Single filers who earn $75,000 or less annually will get $1,200.
  • Single filers who earn more than $75,000 will see their payment amount reduced by 5% of the amount they earn over $75,000, up to $99,000 as the cutoff point.
  • Joint filers who earn less than $150,000 a year will get the full benefit.
  • Joint filers who earn more than $150,000 will see their payment amount reduced by 5% of the amount they earn, up to $198,000.

It’s possible that the HEALS Act or another similar act will pass in the next few months and that the monthly recurring payments could come in a later act if the pandemic continues to ravage the American economy.

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