A new poll says that 82% of Americans want a monthly stimulus check.
Here’s what you need to know.
Monthly Stimulus Check
According to a recent poll from OnePoll, 82% of Americans believe that a one-time stimulus check of $1,200 from the CARES Act is not enough to pay for living expenses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of a one-time check, the majority of respondents say that stimulus checks should continue through the end of lockdowns. The poll, which was conducted in late April with 2,000 of individuals, also found several other results about public sentiment, including:
- Universal Healthcare: More than three-quarters surveyed believe the U.S. should consider universal healthcare. This includes 76% of self-identified Republicans and 84% of self-identified Democrats.
- Mortgage and Rent Payments: 55% say that mortgage and rent payments should be frozen during COVID-19.
- Student Loans: 63% says that student loans should not have to be paid now.
- Unemployment: 79% say the federal government should do more to help those who are unemployed. However, only 58% said that the unemployed should receive more financial support from the federal government.
Will Congress pass a new stimulus bill?
Congress – through the House of Representatives only – already passed the Heroes Act, a new $3 trillion stimulus bill. However, the Senate has called the Heroes Act “dead on arrival,” meaning its likelihood of passage in its current form is close to zero. While Democrats control the House, Republicans control the Senate. To become law, both Houses of Congress would need to pass the Heroes Act, and the president would need to sign the legislation. Does that mean there won’t be a new stimulus bill? No. Congress likely will pass a new stimulus bill, but it may look different than the Heroes Act.
What will be included in the next stimulus bill?
So, would any of these hot topics from this recent poll be included in the next stimulus bill? Let’s break them down.
Americans say they want a monthly stimulus check. There have been several proposals for a second stimulus check. For example:
Despite various proposals for a monthly stimulus check, the Heroes Act doesn’t include a monthly stimulus check. Why not? There isn’t widespread bi-partisan support for a monthly stimulus check. The CARES Act – the $2 trillion financial stimulus package – provided a one-time stimulus check up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and $500 for dependents. The HEROES Act proposed a one-time stimulus check of $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and $1,200 for a maximum of three dependents. The eligibility requirements are similar to the CARES Act: you can receive the full stimulus check if you earn less than $75,000 for a single filer and $150,000 for a married couple / joint filer.
What To Expect: If there is a second stimulus check, expect a one-time stimulus check (rather than a monthly stimulus check) similar to the stimulus check from the CARES Act.
Don’t expect universal healthcare to be included in the next stimulus bill. Universal healthcare is a complex issue that can’t be decided in the next few weeks. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been the biggest proponent of universal healthcare, and made it a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act (”Obamacare”) during the Obama administration, Senate Republicans and the president have largely opposed the legislation in part or in full.
What To Expect: Don’t expect universal healthcare in the next stimulus bill.
Mortgage and Rent Payments
For many Americans, their mortgage and rent payments are their largest financial expense. With more than 36 million Americans out of work, the financial struggle cannot be overlooked. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) proposed the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act. The bill would cancel residential rents and mortgage payments through the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how the bill would work:
- full payment forgiveness of rent or mortgage payment for your primary residence
- no accumulation of debt for renters or mortgage borrowers
- no negative impact on credit rating or rental history for mortgage borrowers or renters.
Now, a majority of poll respondents said that mortgage and rent payments should be frozen. In contrast, Omar’s plan would have the federal government essentially pay your rent or mortgage for your primary residence. Under Omar’s plan, anyone would be eligible for rent or mortgage cancellation regardless of income, amount of rental payment or amount of mortgage payment. Although rent and mortgage payments are an immediate need for many Americans, the Senate is unlikely to pay rent and mortgage payments for everyone in America.
What To Expect: Don’t expect the government to pay your all your rent or mortgage.
The Heroes Act originally included $10,000 of student loan forgiveness for your federal and private student loans. However, the final bill reduced the amount of student loan forgiveness to a small amount of people: only those who are financially struggling. Based on this limitation, millions of student loan borrowers likely wouldn’t qualify for student loan forgiveness if the Heroes Act passed in its current form. The Senate has not championed student loan forgiveness, even if several Democratic senators ranging from Sanders to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have called for student loan forgiveness. The CARES Act already pauses federal student loans through September 30. That may be less than ideal for you if you’re hoping for student loan forgiveness during COVID-19, but Congress likely will focus on other forms of financial relief like a second stimulus check or help for small businesses than student loan forgiveness.
What To Expect: Don’t expect student loan forgiveness in the next stimulus bill.
How long do unemployment benefits last? Unemployment benefits typically last for 26 weeks. Each state sets its own eligibility criteria and unemployment benefit levels. The CARES Act provide an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for a total of 39 weeks of unemployment benefits in most states. Through July 31, 2020, you also can receive $600 each week in addition to the weekly unemployment benefits starting from the date you lose your job. More than 36 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. If the economy and employment statistics don’t improve, there is precedent for Congress to extend unemployment benefits. in February 2009 (following the 2008 financial crisis), Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided for up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.
What To Expect: Congress could extend unemployment benefits for a longer period of time in the next stimulus bill.
Congressional legislation is subject to negotiation. There likely will be a new stimulus bill, but the final components may look different than the Heroes Act. That means some of your top priorities – whether it’s student loan forgiveness or rent relief – may not make the final cut. Could they still be included? Yes, but don’t expect it. Plan your financial life like they won’t be included, so you’re not surprised if you don’t receive the financial relief you want.