By Senator Ron Wyden
The most visible—and popular—pieces of economic relief Congress has approved over the past year have been relief payments and enhanced jobless benefits.
The initial $1,200 payment, combined with the $600 weekly boost to jobless benefits, lowered poverty rates in the midst of a pandemic and worst economic crisis in 100 years.
Surveys of the American people throughout the past year have been consistent—there is overwhelming support for a stronger safety net—in the form of simple, straightforward relief—in the midst of a pandemic.
The American people recognize that their neighbors are experiencing unprecedented financial challenges through no fault of their own.
As Democrats move forward with President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the income thresholds for relief checks are still being debated.
President Biden has proposed beginning to phase out the checks at $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a couple, which I also support. Let me explain why this is the right approach.
Families who have not experienced job loss are still struggling due to fewer shifts, less business, and new child care responsibilities.
Picture a couple with two children in elementary school. They made $140,000 prior to the pandemic. Dad made $75,000 and Mom made $65,000. Mom was able to work from home and managed work, remote school, and child care for months into the pandemic, but quit her job in October when she could no longer manage it all. That’s been the experience for millions of working women.
Now they are trying to make ends meet with half their previous income. Mom is hoping to begin looking for work when school reopens, but her children have fallen behind in school and she’s spending much more time helping them with their work.
This family would have received a relief payment in January and is surely counting on another one to help pay their bills and relieve some of the stress of their new situation.
While the IRS would use their 2020 income if they file early when determining whether they receive a relief payment, even their 2020 income does not reflect their current circumstances.
I agree with my colleagues that “high income” families should not receive help, but I don’t think they would consider the family described above as “high income.”
While they aren’t facing the same struggles as other families who have lost jobs, they clearly need more help.
New polling from Data for Progress and Groundwork Collaborative shows strong support for prioritizing getting relief out the door quickly, over even further targeting of payments—77 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents, and even 46 percent of Republicans—support getting checks out the door quickly and aren’t too concerned about whether families with a bit more of a financial cushion get additional relief.
The bottom line is that the American people recognize the unprecedented nature of this crisis. They know that families are experiencing their own unique challenges, which is why they strongly support being more generous with relief, not less.
Senator Ron Wyden is the Democratic Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
To see original article please visit: https://www.dataforprogress.org/blog/2021/2/9/ron-wyden-checks-not-targeting