A letter from over 125 economists, including former Federal Reserve Vice Chair Alan Blinder and Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during President Barack Obama’s administration, calls on U.S. lawmakers to act on new funding, saying the need for more stimulus funds is urgent.
The economists projected that new $1,200 personal checks to adults and children would do more to benefit the pandemic-ravaged economy more than even the expanded unemployment benefits would, helping to ensure that 8.3 million people didn’t descend below the poverty line by the end of the year.
“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 letter reads.
The letter also says that the pandemic has especially hit women, low-wage earners and black workers hard. Stimulus checks would be an “essential tool,” the economists say, to help many people avoid losing more of their livelihoods. It could also do well to spur the economy.
“The direct cash payments in the CARES Act boosted the economy by increasing spending at all income levels, and the most among low-income people,” the economists wrote. “Direct checks, especially if targeted to the bottom half of households, would ensure those struggling the most, particularly Black, Latinx, and Native American families, aren’t left behind.”
Stimulus funding has remained contested between leaders of both political parties, with Republicans pushing for a more narrow, targeted kind of help while Democrats continue to ask for a wide-ranging, more expensive bill. So far, there’s been no indication that a conclusion is close to being reached.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said he’d be open to discussing a $500 billion plan. However, at that time, neither Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer nor House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had spoken to McConnell since the Nov. 3 election night.