(NEXSTAR) – Three rounds of stimulus checks have helped Americans weather the COVID-19 pandemic by distributing nearly $850 billion in direct payments. Now, nonprofit Economic Security Project is calling for a fourth – and fifth – stimulus check. “One year of stimulus checks lifted Americans out of poverty during the pandemic,” the group said in a tweet Thursday. “As it turns out, direct cash payments do indeed work.”
The nonprofit’s argument for continued payments centers around the utility of the cash infusion, which it credits with lifting millions out of poverty. The group’s data project that the $1,400 stimulus checks, child tax credit and other benefits in the American Rescue Plan will bring 16 million Americans out of poverty, with a fourth and fifth check lifting 12 million more from poverty.
“Cash has been the leading force in reducing poverty during one of the deepest recessions in modern history, and is one of the only policies that can narrow persistent imbalances in poverty, income, and wealth between Americans of color and white Americans,” the group wrote.
The Economic Security Project, a proponent of a guaranteed income, projects additional stimulus checks to continue to lift people out of poverty. Additional stimulus checks would also disproportionately help minority households who have struggled more than white households to cover basic expenses during the pandemic, their research found.
“Evidence from the last year shows stimulus checks to be the fastest and most impactful investments helping Americans get through this crisis, lifting more people out of poverty than any other single policy,” the group wrote.
Is a 4th stimulus check likely?
A poll from Data for Progress found 65% of Americans support the idea of recurring $2,000 payments throughout the pandemic. While that survey may have shown support, the plan isn’t likely to find much in a gridlocked Washington.
One big problem for a plan like this: there’s aren’t enough voices in the middle speaking out in support of another round of relief. For that reason, many experts believe it’s just not possible. “I think it’s unlikely at this time,” Ed Mills, Washington policy analyst at Raymond James, told CNBC recently.
Biden didn’t have an easy time pushing his last relief bill through Congress with Republicans arguing it was simply too much spending. Democrats barely advanced the measure through a process that allowed them to pass the legislation with simple majorities.
The government has issued three direct payments since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. About a year ago, the government sent $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans through the CARES Act. In late 2020, the government approved payments of $600 per person. That was followed up by the third stimulus payment of $1,400.
In the latest round of COVID relief aid, the U.S. government said it sent roughly 159 million direct payments to households, with a total value of $376 billion.