Most Americans want a second stimulus payment — here's what experts say is likely

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Millions of Americans have received their $1,200 economic impact payments, commonly referred to as "stimulus checks." The federal government started delivering those payments to households last month.

For a lot of people, though, the money had to be spent as soon as it arrived. Roughly one-third of households said that the one-time payment wouldn't last a single month, according to a Bankrate survey conducted in April.

Americans support the idea of more direct help. Three-quarters of 2020 swing-state voters are supportive of "sustained" direct economic impact payments, according to a recent poll conducted by CNBC and Change Research. And 84% of Americans overall want a second stimulus, a WalletHub survey found in April. 

That's because people need money, and bills pile up: If you have to pay rent and restock your shelves, even $1,200 goes very fast. So, for a huge number of people who are currently out of work, the question stands: Is more help coming?

'The need is definitely there'

"The need is definitely there" for more payments, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. Citing Bankrate's data, McBride says that people, in "overwhelming" fashion, say they need more money to pay their "monthly bills and day-to-day essentials." That, he says, "underscores why there's going to be a need for more, especially with elevated unemployment levels prevailing."

It does not, however, seem like more economic impact payments are on the way. Another stimulus package would be massively expensive, and it would need to pass the House of Representatives and the Senate and be signed into law by President Trump. No such plan has passed in either the House or the Senate.

And White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow announced on May 8 that the administration would not be considering any additional stimulus payments before June.

Still, there are some proposals starting to surface in Washington. Here are some of the ideas under discussion.  

Current proposals for additional stimulus payments

Policymakers are now proposing ideas for the next round of stimulus payments. Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives recently unveiled a new $3 trillion stimulus bill that would, among other things, provide additional $1,200 stimulus payments (up to $6,000 per household this time), extend the beefed-up, $600-per-week unemployment benefit until January, and provide additional assistance for housing payments.

There are other proposals out there, too.

Before the unveiling of the latest Democratic bill, the splashiest idea was one that also provided another round of monthly stimulus payments. That proposal, introduced to the House of Representatives last month by Reps. Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan, would give all U.S. citizens who are 16 and older $2,000 a month if they earn less than $130,000 a year, the two explained in a video livestream last month. Recipients would receive those payments every month for at least six months and could get their payments through services like Venmo or PayPal, or via check and direct deposit.

While this is just an idea, and one that has a small chance of making it to the president's desk, it underlines that policymakers are aware that Americans are in dire financial situations and that the single economic impact payment isn't going to be enough. "A one-time, $1,200 check isn't going to cut it," Khanna said in a statement.

How to spend a stimulus check if you're employed

Video by Jason Armesto

In effect, Khanna and Ryan's plan would enact a short-term universal basic income program — an idea that gained momentum last year when it was championed by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. It's an idea that even congressional leaders seem open to, given the circumstances.

"Others have suggested a minimum income, a guaranteed income for people," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a recent interview with MSNBC. "Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so."

As for whether the government will institute some version of basic income or distribute more stimulus money, it'll likely come down to politics. Many lawmakers are voicing concerns about the costs of additional aid packages, as trillions of dollars have already been spent trying to cope with and offset the costs of the pandemic for businesses.

Still, experts say you shouldn't give up hope. "I can definitely see more stimulus coming from the government," says Jason Lambert, the president and CEO of Northwest Financial & Tax Solutions, near Portland, Oregon. Even though "ninety percent of people qualified for the $1,200," he says, that money wasn't enough to last even a month in many cases. And given that so many people are out of work, the government may not be able to resists calls to do more to help individuals.

Where else to turn for financial help

If you are in financial trouble, you have some more immediate options.

  • Look to your local government. Some states and cities are floating the idea of issuing stimulus payments. Roughly 40,000 people in Jacksonville, Florida, for instance, are receiving $1,000 payments from their city government. Other cities and states may do the same, so check with your local government to see if aid is or will be available.
  • Make sure you've applied for unemployment benefits. If you've lost your job and haven't yet applied for unemployment benefits, do so as soon as possible. The rules to qualify have been expanded, and some people can qualify for an additional $600 per week in benefits. Even if you're not sure that you'll qualify, you should still apply.
How to spend a stimulus check if you're unemployed

Video by Jason Armesto

  • Ask for bill relief. Because so many people are out of work or suffering a loss of income, you may be able to save money by asking to defer payments on things like credit card bills, utility bills, and more. But you need to reach out and see what your lenders can do — most won't defer your payments or give you discounts automatically.
  • See what kinds of housing aid are available to you. Many cities and states have instituted rent freezes and moratoriums on foreclosures, which may buy you some time to make payments or work out an arrangement with your landlord. 
  • Make sure your student loans are in order. If you're struggling with student loan payments, check to see what types of loans you have, as you may not need to make any payments until later this year. For public loans, payments aren't due (and are interest-free) until September 30. If you have private loans, reach out to your lender as soon as possible to see if they will work with you on a forbearance or deferment plan.

Most people who've lost their jobs due to the pandemic will find that their best shot at getting more money right now is likely through the unemployment system. And though it wouldn't be wise to count on it, some version of additional stimulus payments may eventually make their way to households.

"With elevated unemployment levels prevailing," says McBride, "there's definitely going to be a need for more money" for the unemployed.

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