Stimulus Round 2: Trump floats more checks and senator proposes ‘vacation voucher’

by Leslie Lilith

President Trump has fueled further speculation that another round of stimulus checks could be on the way.

After floating the possibility of a second round of direct stimulus payments to Americans in an interview with Scripps this week, the President is reportedly advocating the measure in conversations with White House aides, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Trump is said to believe that additional stimulus checks would bolster the economy and strengthen his chances of reelection this fall, according to the Post. However, some White House officials and congressional Republicans are reportedly wary of the idea—particularly given the significant amount of deficit spending already undertaken by the government via its coronavirus stimulus measures.

The initial round of stimulus payments—part of Congress’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid bill—provided a one-time payment of up to $1,200 for Americans earning up to $99,000 per year, with married joint-filers earning up to $198,000 combined receiving up to $2,400.

The payments, as well as expanded unemployment insurance, have been widely lauded for helping to cushion the economic blow for tens of millions of Americans who have been forced out of work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But there are concerns that as some of those unemployment benefits expire and the impact of the stimulus payments fades away, more people could find themselves under economic duress.

Congressional Democrats have been at the forefront of floating further stimulus measures—most notably suggesting additional, more generous direct payments under a proposed $3 trillion follow-up stimulus package known as the HEROES Act. Meanwhile, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) teamed with fellow former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on an even more drastic proposal, which would see some Americans receive up to $2,000 per month for the duration of the pandemic. 

But some on the right side of the aisle have also offered stimulus ideas of their own. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill this week designed to support the struggling tourism industry by incentivizing Americans to travel within the U.S. The American TRIP Act, as it’s known, would provide a $4,000 tax credit to individuals and an $8,000 credit to joint-filers (plus an additional $500 credit for dependent children) for travel-related expenses until 2022.

McSally’s proposal is similar to one pitched by the U.S. Travel Association, a travel industry group, which itself took a cue from an “Explore America” tax credit suggested by President Trump during a White House roundtable in May.

But some critics have questioned whether a tax credit incentivizing travel would do enough to help working Americans in need of financial assistance during the pandemic, not to mention the wisdom of encouraging travel in the next year or two—especially as McSally’s home state has witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

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