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If there are more coronavirus stimulus checks, they may go to the neediest

Published Jun 1st, 2020 4:50PM EDT
Coronavirus stimulus checks
Image: Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock
  • There’s still plenty of speculation about when a new round of coronavirus stimulus checks might be approved and distributed, never mind that plenty of taxpayers are still waiting on their first check to arrive.
  • A number of ideas have been floated as to how to implement a new round, but some Senate Democrats are warming to one idea, in particular.
  • The idea is to target any new coronavirus stimulus checks at people who need them the most, unlike the much broader first round of checks.

It’s been overshadowed in the news by the unrelated tragedy that’s gripped the US in recent days, but the country is still very much in the throes of a pandemic — and political leaders are still grappling with how to respond to it, including the questions of if, when, and how to send out a new round of coronavirus stimulus checks.

At least one proposal that includes funding for new stimulus checks has already been passed by the House of Representatives. It’s run into a buzz saw of opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate, where leaders there are less inclined to commit billions of dollars in new coronavirus stimulus aid right now. Meantime, a surprising new development has just emerged that may have even more of an impact on who gets any future coronavirus stimulus checks.

According to The Hill, some Senate Democrats think additional stimulus checks should be means-tested and only go to those who need them the most. “I’d like to take a look at all that aid we provided and get good economic information on the value for that, from the point of view of our economy but more importantly on fairness to people who are really hurt,” Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, said, according to the outlet.

That might make the idea of more checks politically palatable, certainly. Then again, it also might be much easier than it sounds — to the point of excluding large swaths of Americans who actually, well, need the money.

Consider, for example, how the first round of coronavirus stimulus checks was executed. The IRS used your prior years’ tax returns, and if your income was below a certain threshold, you qualified for the full benefit. But remember — a record 1 in 4 Americans has filed for unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of whom may otherwise show healthy incomes on prior-year tax returns.

Our prediction: If we do see another round of stimulus checks, it’s not likely to be as blanket and across-the-board as the first round. And the deeper we get into the summer and campaign season, ahead of the November presidential election, it’s just going to make this even trickier to do right — which is another way of saying it raises the chances that nothing will be done at all in our still-divided Washington.

Andy Meek
Andy Meek Trending News Reporter

Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.