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Is a fourth stimulus check on the way? Here’s what we know

Published Apr 19th, 2021 1:59PM EDT
New stimulus check
Image: Jason Raff/Adobe

Here’s the thing about the prospects for yet another new stimulus check — to be more specific, a fourth direct coronavirus relief payment, which is already being called for in some circles including by a number of progressive US Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

An argument can definitely be made for a new stimulus check. A study from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, for example, found that another check would help bring more than 6 million Americans out of poverty. Along those same lines, the Economic Security Project — a left-leaning policy initiative advocating for universal basic income — issued a report noting that stimulus checks have “played a leading role in helping Americans keep their heads above water during this recession.” Meanwhile, reasons to think a new stimulus check might be more of a long shot than anything else at this point include the fact that it would no doubt face an even tougher uphill climb than the last round of payments did. And President Biden, as well as his Press Secretary Jen Psaki, have said almost nothing about a fourth stimulus check at this point, either.

Here’s a closer look at why no one should be expecting a fourth stimulus check, at least as things stand right now, anytime soon:

The stimulus legislation that President Biden signed into law on March 11, remember, didn’t get support from a single Republican in Congress. Not only that, but some moderate Democrats were wobbly, questioning why a third stimulus check as part of another massive stimulus package so soon after the second stimulus check from December was needed. As a consequence of this, Democrats had to ram through the bill via a legislative maneuver called “reconciliation” that allowed for its passage on a simple majority vote.

There was a lot of hue and cry over that process, with some Republicans crying foul, but the process worked. There is a chance that Democrats could decide to attach a fourth stimulus check to the major infrastructure package that the President and Democrats are teeing up in Congress, which represents a big spending initiative in support of modernizing things like roads, bridges, and water systems around the country, but the calculus to consider is that shaky Democrats last time might be even more so this time around.

Why? Well, partly because the COVID-related situation in the US is improving, slowly but surely. According to data from the CDC, more than 50% of US adults have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Moreover, former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicts that coronavirus cases in the US are going to fall considerably as we get deeper into May because of that fact. Those facts are linked to improvement in the economy, as a consequence — and an improving economy would seem to obviate the need for a new stimulus check.

However, just because we may not receive a fourth stimulus check that’s labeled as such, that doesn’t mean more federal government financial aid won’t be flowing to Americans soon. On the contrary, check out some of our earlier coverage for details about that financial aid which you could argue is tantamount to quasi-stimulus checks that are coming soon to certain Americans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic:

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis 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.