As President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday to free up $50 billion in funding to address the coronavirus pandemic, a pair of Democratic congressmen proposed legislation that would provide a check of up to $6,000 to every American whose income last year was below $65,000.
Today President Trump and secretary of the treasury Steven Mnuchin announced that they intend on sending assisting Americans with a stimulus plan by sending each individual a check, with the amount yet to be finalized.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah on Monday said Washington should “send $1,000 checks to each American.”
“Every American adult should immediately receive $1,000 to help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term obligations and increase spending in the economy,” Romney said in a statement. “Congress took similar action during the 2001 and 2008 recessions.”
The Utah lawmaker also called for bridge grants to qualified small businesses, student-loan deferment for recent graduates and other steps.
His proposal comes after two Democratic congressmen — Ohio’s Tim Ryan and California’s Ro Khanna — proposed on Friday that the government send a check worth between $1,000 and $6,000 to every American who earned less than $65,000 last year.
“As more folks are staying in and taking necessary steps to avoid spread of the coronavirus, more Americans will struggle to cover basic needs like rent, groceries and medicines,” Ryan said in a statement. “We can’t have Americans choosing between losing a paycheck or a job and taking the necessary precautions to keep their families safe.”
The proposals from lawmakers come after economist Jason Furman, a Harvard University professor and former adviser to the Obama administration, said Congress should send out $1,000 checks in a Wall Street Journal column earlier this month.
“Congress should pass a simple one-time payment of $1,000 to every adult who is a U.S. citizen or a taxpaying U.S. resident, and $500 to every child who meets the same criteria,” Furman wrote. “This is similar to, but somewhat more generous than, what President Bush did in 2008.”
Economist Greg Mankiw, a Harvard professor who advised former President George W. Bush, also backed sending every American a $1,000 check, given the “difficulty of identifying the truly needy and the problems inherent in trying to do so.“
“A payroll tax cut makes little sense in this circumstance, because it does nothing for those who can’t work,” Mankiw wrote in a blog post on Friday, referring to an approach that President Donald Trump has supported.
“There are upsides to a lump-sum rebate that may be prompting serious consideration,” said Evercore ISI analysts in a note on Monday. A tax rebate of $1,000 per adult and $500 per child would be roughly equivalent to a 6.2% payroll tax holiday, but it has the advantage of being both more progressive than the payroll tax cut and faster in getting to households, though it still would take about two months to arrive, according to the analysts.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted on Monday that Republicans and Democrats “are both coming to the same conclusion: Universal Basic Income is going to have to play a role in helping Americans weather this crisis.”
GOP & Democrats are both coming to the same conclusion: Universal Basic Income is going to have to play a role in helping Americans weather this crisis.@RoKhanna & @TimRyan’s proposal goes up to $6,000/mo depending on need. Mitt Romney just came out for a flat $1,000 universal. https://t.co/43d4AWK70u
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 16, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat, both have signaled that they’re working on broader stimulus measures that could aid Americans facing financial problems because of the pandemic as well as provide a boost to small businesses and other sectors of the economy.
Washington also is on track to enact a bill aimed at providing paid sick leave for people affected by the novel coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19 and free testing for the disease, among other measures.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Sunday stressed that it’s the role of Congress and the Trump administration to help businesses or workers who are hurt by the broad shutdown of normal day-to-day activity, as the central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to zero.