In These Times - January 14, 2021

... The outcome of the Georgia election confirmed what voters had been saying for weeks: stimulus checks are a top priority. A December poll conducted by Data for Progress found that 63 percent of likely Georgia voters said they would be more likely to vote for candidates who supported more coronavirus relief. Soon after, a national poll from the same organization found an overwhelming majority of likely voters (78 percent) either strongly or somewhat supported direct payments of $2,000.

In response to a survey by the Southern Economic Advancement Project, one Georgia voter named Allison voiced the challenge faced by many in her state: ​“I am behind three months on my mortgage and two months on my truck payment; another stimulus check would help me get back on my feet.”

After initially refusing to take a stance, both Georgia Republican Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue backed $2,000 relief checks, reluctantly bowing to public pressure and the demand from President Trump.

In the end, Ossoff won by more than 55,000 votes and Warnock won by over 90,000. The clear takeaway is that stimulus checks are good politics. People are demanding direct cash assistance, which will not only help those who are struggling, but also provide the economic stimulus our nation desperately needs to recover from the pandemic.

This time, Congress can’t make the same mistake they did with the CARES Act in March and just issue a one-time check. While $2,000 will provide more immediate support than the $600 check included in the recently passed stimulus bill, one-time payments can only stall the financial harm of the pandemic for a short period. It won’t protect families from the devastating impacts of the ongoing pandemic, including food insecurity, eviction and bankruptcy. Families need sustained monthly assistance to feed their children, pay rent and stay in their homes.

The data back up this point. In August 2020, the Urban Institute projected that while a single stimulus check of $1,200 to most adults (and up to three dependents) would keep 8.3 million Americans from falling into poverty between August and December 2020, additional stimulus payments would further reduce poverty by a substantial amount, particularly among Black and Hispanic Americans, with even one more check keeping another 6.3 million out of poverty during that period.

Marilyn Bezear, a member of Community Voices Heard from Harlem, New York, struggled to cover her expenses after the last one-time stimulus check. ​“We need enough to take us out of debt, so that I can pay my bills without losing sleep at night,” she said. ​”People need ongoing support.”

Juan, a business owner from King County, Washington, echoed Marilyn’s view. ​“Two thousand-dollar monthly direct cash payments would help with some of these utilities, would help with some of the payments that we need to alleviate,” he said. ​“And not just one, but continuous, until we’re over that threshold and over that hump that says, ​‘we can see a better day.’ We really need something that’s continuous in place.” ...
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