Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the Trump administration aims to send $1,000 checks to every American. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'The Send-People-Money Bids Are Ramping Up': As Trump Signals Direct Cash Payments, Progressives Say Check Size and Who Qualifies Matters

"Good," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "Now we must suspend student loan payments."

Julia Conley

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that he and President Donald Trump supported sending $1,000 checks straight to the American people as tens of millions face furloughs, layoffs, and financial uncertainty as the coronavirus outbreak spreads—a major shift of the Overton Window regarding direct cash assistance for Americans amid the pandemic. 

"We are looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," Mnuchin told the press. "Americans need to get cash now and the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now—in the next two weeks."

Mnuchin reportedly said the administration "likes the idea of $1,000" for the checks, but declined to give an exact number in a press briefing or to say if the proposal would be free of restrictions that could leave out people who receive other government benefits. He also suggested the program could be means-tested, telling reporters, "We don't need to send people who make a million dollars a year checks."

Still, the notion of direct cash assistance from the Trump administration would have been "inconceivable" just days ago, Washington Post economics reporter Jeffrey Stein tweeted.

"If the cash is genuinely unrestricted, it would be a historic move. While Americans received checks as part of the response to recessions in 2001 and 2008, those were sent out as rebates or refunds to taxpayers," wrote Dylan Matthews at "Never before have all Americans, regardless of income, and including the poorest citizens who do not earn enough money to have positive income tax burdens, gotten checks."

Mnuchin's statement followed intense criticism of the administration's previous economic stimulus proposal to offer a payroll tax cut to companies—a plan which would not help Americans in the immediate term and would carry no benefit for people who lose their jobs as a result of the public health crisis.

"If Republicans move in this direction and Democrats keep insisting on narrowly targeted means-tested plans with a zillion carve outs for particular businesses, it will be a catastrophe for the Democratic Party."
—Zach Carter, HuffPost

The suggestion that the federal government could send checks to tens of millions of Americans came a day after Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) criticized an economic relief package from House Democrats for failing to deliver fast enough assistance to American workers. The bill left most workers out of its plan for paid sick leave, and the legislation was scaled back even further late Monday, limiting the benefit for the next ten weeks to people who are out of work because they need to care for children.

The scaling back of the House bill and the administration's potential offer of assistance, as well as the proposals put forward by Republican senators, has effectively placed Democrats to the right of the GOP regarding coronavirus aid, HuffPost reporter Zach Carter tweeted.

"A handful of Republicans are outflanking Democrats on coronavirus aid," he wrote, sharing Sen. Josh Hawley's (R-Mo.) plan to send checks for several thousand dollars to families. "If Republicans move in this direction and Democrats keep insisting on narrowly targeted means-tested plans with a zillion carve outs for particular businesses, it will be a catastrophe for the Democratic Party."

Following the push on Monday from Romney, Cotton and Hawley, some Senate Democrats also began pushing for direct cash assistance. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on Tuesday proposed immediate payments of $2,000 for every American adult and child followed by additional payments later this year.

"The 'send people money' bids are ramping up in the Senate," New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley tweeted.

Last week, before the House passed its relief bill, Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) proposed sending checks of up to $6,000 to every American earning less than $65,000. Progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) also announced Tuesday on Twitter that she was planning to introduce legislation to offer $1,000 to every adult and $500 to every child in the country, with "no exceptions," as well as direct stimulus to any small business that doesn't lay off its workers during the crisis.

Other progressives in Congress applauded the Trump administration for considering direct cash payments—and pushed the president to move forward with other proposals for assistance to Americans.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) both called on Mnuchin and Trump to suspend student loan payments or cancel student debt.

"Student loan cancellation has to be part of the next emergency funding package," tweeted Pressley. 

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'The Facebook Papers' Spur More Calls to 'Break Them Up!'

Other critics are demanding a "full, independent, outside investigation" of the tech titan as whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies to the U.K. Parliament.

Jessica Corbett ·

Critics See Menendez Villainy Equal to Sinema's on Medicare Drug Pricing Fight

"It's discouraging to see Sen. Menendez is on the wrong side of this fight rather than leading the charge for more affordable, accessible healthcare for all."

Brett Wilkins ·

Humanity 'Way Off Track': WMO Says Atmospheric Carbon at Level Unseen in 3 Million Years

The new report has "a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP 26," said the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·

Any Lawmaker Involved in Planning Jan. 6 Insurrection 'Must Be Expelled,' Says AOC

Organizers of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol say that several congressional Republicans and White House officials helped plan former President Donald Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil ·

Profits Before People: 'The Facebook Papers' Expose Tech Giant Greed

"This industry is rotten at its core," said one critic, "and the clearest proof of that is what it's doing to our children."

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo