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Why we might not be getting a new coronavirus stimulus check after all

Published Jun 15th, 2020 11:50AM EDT
Stimulus check update
Image: Eric Gay/AP Images
  • We don’t have an official stimulus check update from the federal government to share yet, in terms of whether or when Americans will get another coronavirus-related payment to offset any economic pain they may be feeling right now.
  • However, the odds of any new such coronavirus stimulus check aren’t looking good.
  • That’s because of surprising improvement on the economic front, for one thing.

For anyone who’s been hoping for a new coronavirus stimulus check update, perhaps assuming that conditions are continuing to support a round of new direct payments from the federal government, we’ve got some bad news, unfortunately.

You would think that conditions are such that the federal government would be all but guaranteed to tee up another round of checks to follow the payments stemming from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus legislation Congress passed back in March. Most Americans have already said that first check (offering up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples) wasn’t enough, and that they could certainly use check #2.

Moreover, unemployment is continuing to grow in this country (another 1.5 million Americans filed a jobless claim last week), as are the number of coronavirus cases and deaths — which are up to almost 2.1 million and more than 115,000, respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Having said all that, though, you could argue that the odds of a new coronavirus stimulus check are actually starting to look worse. The first sign why that’s the case is that, ironically, the job numbers are actually getting better.

As the Motley Fool financial website noted in a piece Monday, most economists were predicting widespread economic devastation in May stemming from a loss of 8 million additional jobs to add to the roughly 20 million jobs lost in April. Except, the opposite thing happened. The overall unemployment rate actually dropped from 14.7% to 13.3%, and the US added 2.5 million jobs. This surprise to the upside sent stocks through the roof and had many experts wondering if this is a sign that we’ve turned a corner.

If so — if this means we’re starting to learn how to effectively live with the virus, at least as far as the economy is concerned, this might provide fodder for lawmakers who’ve been on the fence about whether or not to support another round of expensive government stimulus to say the country doesn’t need it after all. As we noted here, Republicans in the Senate were already less than enthusiastic about supporting just such a measure.

Speaking of which, that partisan divide is also another reason why a new round of stimulus checks will have a much harder time coming to fruition.

There doesn’t seem to be much that lawmakers from both parties agree on when discussions turn to what a new stimulus package should include. Several dozen House Democrats, for example, want their leadership to press for green energy priorities, while for Republicans the price tag associated with any new stimulus package is the thing they’re trying to keep to a minimum.

Also, states and cities around the country keep “reopening,” paving the way for Americans to start spending again and returning to work. Every state that had put a stay-at-home order in place was already starting to lift that restriction by the end of May. That means, theoretically, most Americans are no longer stuck at home and unable to work, which for some lawmakers may mean the biggest motivation for any new stimulus check has now been removed.

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.