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The year 2020 was a very shambolic year for virtually every American; everyone would want to forget it in a haste. The first quarter of the year ushered in a ‘dangerous’ pandemic, one of the worst in history. It hit the United States like a volcano and its devastating effects have left an uphill task for anyone who has sincere wishes of reimposing any situation with the semblance of normalcy.
The Corona virus was first detected in a sea-food market in Wuhan, in the sprawling capital of Central China’s Hubei province. The sneaky virus made its way into the US on January 21st last year and some rightly believe the then President – Donald J. Trump was very clueless in the management of the virus, in fact, he needed some weeks to be convinced that the virus which was then on its way to becoming a global pandemic was not in any way a ‘hoax.’ Those poor decisions combined with a destructive crass ineptitude finally cost him his job later in the year, when millions of Americans voted to correct an error they were hoodwinked into making in 2016.
President Joe Biden who took the oath of office on the 20th of January 2021 immediately understood the challenge staring him in the face – a country in urgent need of ‘workable’ solutions. As at the last check, (today) over 32 million Americans have contracted the deadly Covid-19 virus with a staggering 582,000 deaths, some people hold the view that the calamity could have been more had Biden not taken charge of the White House in January.
On assumption of office, Biden immediately set the ball rolling from day one. He unveiled several policies to tackle the virus more holistically, most prominently amongst them was the pledge to inoculate over 100 million Americans within his first one hundred days in office; a feat which he achieved within one week to spare. With an encouraging success in the vaccination campaign, the Joe Biden-led administration has now shifted its focus from tackling the pandemic to bolstering the post-pandemic economy. One month after assumption of office, Biden began proposing a $2 trillion spending plan which was targeted at boosting the American economy through strategic efforts in building infrastructure, creating jobs, enhancing social security, and putting money into the pockets of struggling Americans through stimulus checks.
Talking about stimulus checks, it is interesting to know that generally, Stimulus checks have injected about $850 billion in financial support to Americans over the past year; the relief packages have included: $1,200 dollars via the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act in March 2020; $600 in a December relief measure; and $1,400 under the American Rescue Plan, signed in March by President Joe Biden. Findings have shown that these drastic measures helped to raise the income of Americans by up to 20% for the lowest-income households.
Last month, President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure and economic recovery package. The plan had broad aims to revitalise the United States transportation infrastructure, water systems, broadband, and manufacturing, among other goals. The ‘package’ which is expected to get to the congress for consideration by the middle of July has been a serious subject of debate amongst Americans with many appealing to President Biden to include a 4th stimulus plan as part of a broad effort to cushion the COVID’s economic impact on households and support the economy while the pandemic recovery continues.
President Biden would be doing millions of families a huge favour by endorsing the 4th stimulus package. In fact, the need to get that done cannot be overemphasised. Families need more stimulus checks, a careful look at the 3rd stimulus package would buttress this position; a new survey which was conducted by Bankrate.com discovered that people mostly plan to use the $1,400 checks (3rd stimulus) on monthly expenses, day-to-day essentials, paying debt and savings. Many respondents to that survey actually stated that the money would last less than three months if that long. Despite that financial assistance, unemployment remains high, especially in low-wage industries such as food services and hospitality where demand is still lagging amid rising Coronavirus rates and Americans have remained in financial distress. Many American citizens are struggling to put food on the table, pay their rent, and keep the lights on, most of these were occasioned by job losses in the hit of the pandemic, others are being forced to stay home. The distress can only be imagined. The ‘continued’ support is vital to reduce the number of people that would fall into poverty if help does not come. Millions could be homeless if a 4th stimulus check is not made available to bring people back to their feet. Biden should not only endorse this ‘package’ he should do everything possible to ensure improvements to the system to remove bottlenecks to make it so that those payments reach eligible people automatically and as soon as possible.
The queues at food banks across the country have never been this long in recent times. People now depend on food banks to feed. Many Americans practically don’t know where the next meal would come from. This is actually shameful, to say the least. Many Americans now groan under pain and difficulties associated with their inability to provide and cater for themselves, no thanks to the pandemic, Biden has to come through for them, he can’t afford to look the other way.
The prospect of a 4th stimulus check is now being pushed by a considerable number of lawmakers. It is quite imperative to note that over 75 members of Congress across party lines are pressing President Joe Biden to support a 4th stimulus check and more after that because they say many Americans are still struggling after a year of crisis. It is safe to say that no one probably understands the plight of Americans more than these congressmen who have been getting calls, messages and constantly put under pressure by their constituents to do something about their plight. In March, no fewer than 20 Democratic United States Senators urged Biden in a letter to consider instituting ‘recurring payments’ for as long as the Coronavirus crisis endures. This is a pointer Biden should not just ignore. Evidence from the last year shows stimulus checks to be the fastest and most impactful investments helping Americans get through the crisis, lifting more people out of poverty than any other single policy.
Online searches for the phrase ‘4th stimulus check’ have ballooned over the past few weeks, according to Google Trends, many Americans are possibly looking up to the government to come to their aid, please make no mistake about it, Americans are not lazy people. These folks are not asking for a handout, they simply want a lifeline to get to the other side of the pandemic. With the CDC recently announcing that Americans who have received full vaccinations can go out without masks outdoors provided the locations are not crowded, hope could be in sight, Americans simply need something to hold on to till they are fully back on their feet.
Sourcing the resources to fund this 4th stimulus package shouldn’t be an issue, despite rising debts, years of downward pressure on interest rates give the country more room to spend; borrowing is ‘cheaper’ now since interest rates are not so high. Then again, most of the funds are going directly into the market which would boost the economy and restore it to an upward trajectory. Just like President Biden has previously hinted, raising taxes for the rich, the corporate sector and high-income households is a welcome development, ‘Fairness’ is the word.
Finally, a 4th stimulus check is a very potent weapon Americans need to in the short-term to face the future with the knowledge that they are financially able to get through it. It is important to give people some sort of financial certainty till we say goodbye to the pandemic.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK