President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan proposes a third round of stimulus checks of $1,400 for most Americans. Yet while that could extend a helping hand to millions of households still suffering from the pandemic's economic fallout, it could be months until the payments arrive, analysts say.
The relief package's price tag is likely to face pushback from Republican lawmakers, who last year resisted Democratic efforts to pass a $2 trillion bill. Heights Securities analyst Hunter Hammond expects the ultimate package to be trimmed to $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion. But most analysts think lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will back the $1,400 direct payments, which economists view as a lifeline for many cash-strapped workers who lost their jobs or seen their income plummet during the pandemic.
Support for another stimulus package may gain steam given several developments that point to widening economic distress as the pandemic worsens, according to Ed Mills, an analyst with investment bank Raymond James. A weaker outlook for the labor market, with a bigger-than-expected 1 million jobless claims during the first week of January, as well as record number of COVID-19 infections and deaths could push lawmakers to support Mr. Biden's plan for additional stimulus, analysts say.
"The market is back to an expectation that more fiscal stimulus is all but inevitable in the early days of the Biden administration, with the release of a $1.9 trillion 'American Rescue Plan,'" Mills said in a report on Friday. "While we anticipate that additional fiscal support remains likely, the timing and scope are very much in flux."
Chief among the issues are whether Republican lawmakers would support the package, or if the Biden administration would eventually tackle its spending priorities by breaking apart the spending proposals into two bills, analysts say.
Here's what analysts are predicting about the $1,400 checks and other spending proposals.
Very likely, according to Wall Street and political analysts. There is growing support among Republican lawmakers for additional stimulus directed toward low- and middle-income households, with the latest effort to pass $2,000 stimulus checks winning some bipartisan support.
There's an 85% chance a scaled-down package will be passed in the first three months of 2021, predicts Height Securities' Hammond. Because of the ongoing support for additional direct aid to households, checks are likely to be included in that smaller package.
"We believe there is support for a smaller package that includes the $1,400 checks, more health care funding, support for small businesses, and some state and local aid," Mills said.
Alec Phillips, chief U.S. political economist with Goldman Sachs, thinks the package could be passed in mid-February to mid-March. After the relief bill passes Congress, it must be signed by the president. After that, the IRS would distribute funds through direct deposit, mailed checks and prepaid debit cards.
In the first stimulus payments in April 2020, which directed $1,200 to eligible adults as well as $500 per child, it typically took two weeks to several months for payments to reach people. The second round of checks, which sent $600 to each eligible adult and child, required about a week for the funds to arrive via direct deposit.
But in some cases people experienced delays in receiving the money due to problems with their account information. Based on previous stimulus money payouts, and assuming Congress passes a new relief bill by mid-February, the checks could arrive in bank accounts by late February, although that would likely be a best-case scenario. If a package is passed by the end of March, people might get their checks by early April.
The caveat is these time frames assume that at least 10 Republican Senators support the package, allowing for 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a possible filibuster and pass the bill, analysts noted. If the Biden administration cannot muster enough GOP support, then stimulus backers could move to pass it under a process known as budget reconciliation. That parliamentary maneuver only requires a majority vote for legislation to become law, though it can delay passage.
Signs point to millions of households facing rising financial hardship as the pandemic worsens, which is causing some businesses to lay off staff and cut back hours.
In December, hiring around the U.S. fell for the first time in seven months, as the virus weighed especially hard on restaurants, bars and other service-related businesses. The number of Americans applying for weekly jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, last week also jumped to nearly 1 million.
The financial need is greatest among lower-income households. Yet almost half of households with incomes above $150,000 said they needed the stimulus checks for financial stability, according to a recent survey from Credit Karma. Almost 6 in 10 households are facing financial hardship, TransUnion found in a November survey.
The additional stimulus funds "will be essential to the financial stability of many Americans, including those who appear to be higher earners," Colleen McCreary, chief people officer at Credit Karma told CBS MoneyWatch in an email. "As the pandemic drags on, Americans are continuing to feel the financial crunch."
First published on January 15, 2021 / 11:35 AM
© 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.