Friday marks the one-year anniversary of President Joe Biden’s signature on the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which authorised the third and, probably, last stimulus package in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
According to some analysts, the $1,400 direct payment to most Americans, as well as the increased child tax credit and other financial aid programmes, were sorely required when the country was economically ravaged by the prolonged health crisis.
“Considering how durable and fair the recovery has been in the face of Delta, Omicron, and now military conflict in Europe,” Gene Sperling, a Biden aide picked to monitor the legislation’s implementation, told The Associated Press.
Consequences of Government Spending
Others, however, believe otherwise, given that the most current consumer price index was found to have risen 7.9 percent year on year, reaching a new forty-year high, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The bet was that if it worked, it would inspire others to do more.” However, it contributed to inflation, which caused people to want to do less,” Jason Furman, a Harvard professor and former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, told Reuters. “In some respects, that’s the most serious ramification. It was a bet, and they lost it, and it stung,” he added.
It is against this backdrop of severe inflation—skyrocketing gas and food prices—that many Americans are still trying to make ends meet. The two-year-long pandemic is still “far from done,” according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who added that Covid-19 “will not be over somewhere until it’s over everywhere.”
More Stimulus Packages?
For many, the short-term remedy is for the government to authorise another round or two of stimulus cheques, as has been long advocated by multiple nationwide petitions. The most popular is being organised by Denver-area restaurant owner Stephanie Bonin, whose Change.org petition has already surpassed its goal of three million signatures and has gained 37,000 more.
“I’m requesting that Congress immediately provide families with a $2,000 payment for adults and a $1,000 payment for children, as well as maintaining regular checks for the duration of the crisis,” the petition states.
One energy expert is encouraging the government to issue $1,100 stimulus checks to assist alleviate the pain of current inflationary pressures, including gas prices, which are now at $4.33 per gallon, according to AAA.
“The quickest and most effective way to protect vulnerable citizens from the effects of global economic instability is to provide a direct payment through the IRS, similar to the three stimulus checks that were sent to families during the peak of the pandemic,” wrote Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, in an op-ed for CNN Business.
“The administration should urge Congress to authorise a payment of $1,100 per household to cover the next four months of higher prices,” he added.