The Biden administration did have enough numbers to push through some form of stimulus check after the last of the stimulus checks ended in December 2021 when the expanded Child Tax Credit payments were stopped. Betrayal by a couple of Democratic Senators in a finely poised Senate split down the middle ensured that President Biden did not have sufficient numbers to push through another Economic Impact Payment.
Last year was comparable to the previous two in terms of the financial misery it brought about on Americans belonging to the low and moderate-income groups. It may even to fair to say that 2022 was the toughest of the three previous years for a lot of people. And one factor that is to be blamed is inflation, the situation exaggerated by the absence of any form of federal checks.
High living costs formed many people, mostly from the low and moderate-income groups, to dip into their savings and rely on external help to cover even basic needs. Many Americans also had to rack up debts on credit cards to keep up with essential bills.
Making matters worse was the fact that the federal administration did not move in at this time to offer blanket relief in the form of multiple forms of stimulus checks like it had done in the past. Two factors played against the Biden administration’s bid for a fourth stimulus check-in in 2022.
The second reason that President Biden did not push through another economic impact payment was the bogey of inflation raised by the Republicans. The opposition sought to link the record inflation that began to have a severe and debilitating effect on the economy by the last quarter of 2021.
To be fair to the detractors of the multiple rounds of stimulus checks, the direct payments may have in some ways led to the rising prices across products and services. From gasoline to groceries and transport costs, there has been an all-round and relentless rise in prices that has endured through 2022 and into the new year.
People were finding it tough even to keep up with essential bills. For the first time in decades, Americans were faced with the prospect of seeing their earnings go down in real terms. There was an increase in wages across sectors following the pandemic, fueled in part by the severe shortage of workers in every sector.
But this increase, a healthy 3.5% on average, was negated by the record inflation that constantly stayed above the 8.5% mark through 2022 and even touched 9.1% in June 2022. This was the highest since November 1981 and led to price doubling in some sectors. The price of gasoline rose to above $8 a gallon in some cities.
While the federal government grappled with rising prices, people were left wondering about the lack of support at this crucial stage. They wondered why there was no federal assistance at a time when the cost of living was truly getting to a point of no control.
States Step In To Fill The Vacuum Created By The Absence Of Federal Stimulus Checks
Fortunately many states, around 20 of them, realized that they had to step in at some stage to assuage the pain of high inflation, especially among the low-income groups.
They were assisted by the fact that they were flush with funds from the aid they received from the federal administration in the form of the American Rescue Plan Act and the allocation to states.
The American Rescue Plan Act signed by incoming President Biden in March 2021 made generous provisions for the state, local, and tribal bodies. These funds were parallel to the direct stimulus checks given out to Americans by the federal government, and also the support it afforded to organizations and businesses.
Maine and New Mexico were some of the states that gave out the first inflation relief stimulus checks to residents. The payments, though, were not as generous as the federal support. But it afforded some form of relief from the relentless increase in prices that started in the last quarter of 2021.
Maine sends out an $850 relief check to around 858,000 residents of Maine. The pandemic-driven inflation, high energy costs, and increased prices of goods prompted Governor Mills to give back some of the high budget surplus to Maine taxpayers in the form of the $850 direct relief.
The proposal by the Governor was supported wholeheartedly by the Legislation and the payment totaling $729.3 million were returned to taxpayers. It came to nearly half of the budget surplus that the state received in 2021.
The requirement for individual relief stimulus checks was kept simple across states. Maine, for instance, gave out stimulus checks to individuals who filed their 2021 Maine individual income tax return by October 31, 2022, as a resident of Maine for the whole of 2021.
Despite the passing of the deadline for the Maine individual income tax filing, residents are still able to file after the date to claim their $850 individual relief check, which doubles for married couples filing jointly.
States Time Their Stimulus Checks For The Festive Season
In times of such desperation for millions of Americans, some states stepped in answer to the call of desperate residents tired of dealing with the relentless increase in prices. Many states timed their payments for the festive season, including California and Colorado.
For the Golden State, it is the third round of stimulus checks. The Golden State Stimulus Check I and II came immediately after the pandemic and the state relied on its huge economy instead of relying on the Rescue Plan.
The Middle-Class Tax Rebate given out in this round of payments gives between $200 to $1,050 to households and individuals. Payments are linked to the 2020 California state income tax returns.
Colorado has approved a stimulus check that gives out $750 for individual filers and doubles for married couples filing jointly.
Those who have filed their 2021 taxes on time received their money starting September 2022.
Residents of both states continue to get their payments in the new year and the payments are expected to continue through January 2023.