A FOURTH stimulus check or more Covid relief payments are “certainly possible” this year, according to a leading economist.
Peter Earle, an economist at the American Institute for Economic Research, told CNBC that the prospect of “more direct stimulus payments” could not be ruled out, even as the distribution of the third check is not yet complete.
The current $1.9trillion stimulus package signed by President Joe Biden earlier this month likely “won’t be enough,” added David Blanchflower, who teaches economics at Dartmouth College.
He told CNBC that fourth stimulus checks could come, as nearly 18 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits.
Blanchflower claimed that with 6.2 percent unemployment as of February, the American Rescue Plan “probably won’t be big enough, and more stimulus will have to come later.”
Earle says that while a fourth stimulus check may be needed, whether it’s passed will depend on interest rates, financial market performance, and public support for Biden’s policies.
He told CNBC that the midterm elections in 2022 will already be on lawmakers’ minds, especially Democrats who risk losing out if the GOP wins back seats and regain the majority in the Senate.
Biden’s American Rescue plan was voted on along party lines with only Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the 50-50 split and not a single Republican showing support.
In order for any ongoing stimulus payments to be passed, Biden would need to entice more Republicans to break from their party to overcome the threat of a filibuster.
There are no current talks underway for a fourth stimulus package with millions of retired Americans and people receiving federal benefits still awaiting the third check.
The Social Security Administration said on Thursday that it had handed over payment information for 30 million people, blaming the delay on a lack of staff funding.
The SSA and IRS have not yet announced a date by which social security recipients can expect to receive the $1,400.
CALLS FOR FOURTH CHECK
The IRS said in a statement that 127million stimulus payments have been distributed by direct deposit or by check in the first two weeks since the bill was signed.
Yet many Americans are still calling for more aid as they struggle financially due to the ongoing pandemic.
On Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib suggest everyone in the US, including undocumented migrants, should receive the monthly injection of cash.
It comes after 11 Democratic senators called for recurring direct payments rather than a one-off check earlier this month, according to Fox 35.
The senators, who included Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, claimed “now is the time for boldness” in a letter to Biden on March 2.
CNBC reported that they also wanted increased unemployment benefits.
“Families shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll have enough money to pay for essentials in the months ahead as the country continues to fight a global pandemic,” the senators wrote.
“Almost 6 in 10 people say the $1,400 payments set to be included in the rescue package will last them less than three months.”
The White House has not yet publicly commented on the group’s proposal.
Biden has not ruled out the possibility of a fourth stimulus payment but would likely face opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats, who have both expressed concern about the cost of another relief package.
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Experts have warned that Americans should treat the third stimulus check as if it is their last relief payment.
Mark La Spisa, a certified financial planner and president of Vermillion Financial Advisors, told Acorns that recipients should prioritize outstanding bills and an emergency fund.
The push for further stimulus checks comes as Biden boasts his vaccine rollout but struggles to grapple with the worsening migrant crisis on the southern border.