A group of more than 125 economists are begging Congress to deliver a second round of stimulus checks to American families to help them deal with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to CNBC, the group, which includes Jason Furman, a former top economic advisor to President Barack Obama, sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to help Americans struggling through the economic effects of the pandemic. Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman, and Claudia Sahm, a former Fed economist also signed the letter.
“We urge policymakers to use all the tools at their disposal to revitalize the economy, including direct cash payments, which are one of the quickest, most equitable, and most effective ways to get families and the economy back on track,” the group wrote.
The group is pushing for a second round of stimulus checks, calling them an “essential tool” for preventing poverty and the coronavirus pandemic from getting worse. The Economic Security Project, an advocate of guaranteed income, also cited research from the Urban Institute showing stimulus checks will keep 14 million Americans out of poverty.
The economists are asking Congress to come together on a package to release more funds for unemployment, state and local aid, more Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and childcare funding.
In April, the government passed the $2.2 trillion CARES ACT. The Act provided a one-time $1,200 stimulus check, a $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit, funds for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. The stimulus check and the weekly unemployment benefit allowed Americans to save money during the pandemic.
However, the benefits ran out at the end of August. Since then, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been at a stalemate in negotiations on a second stimulus package. Democrats and Republicans have introduced their versions of a second relief package, but neither passed. Republicans weren’t happy with their own package and believed the package released by Democrats would keep Americans from getting back to work.
The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University published a study in June that determined without the funds provided in the CARES Act, the poverty rate in the country would have climbed above the level seen since the 2008 housing crisis.