Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

From the Potomac to the Creek

Graphic by Lashall Richards

Though it has waxed and waned throughout American history in its popularity, economic stimulus during an economic recession or depression (or, as the case may be, during an impeding economic recession or depression), has always remained a question of policy: from being at the heart of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, to being at at one point deplored amongst both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates during the late 1990s, when Republicans continued their traditional fiscally conservative policies and then-Vice President Al Gore pledged to cut spending and enact fiscal austerity during an economic recession or depression, or an impending economic recession or depression, to being a subject of partisan political discourse and controversy under the early Obama Administration, when the Democratic Party enacted a fiscal stimulus and the Republican Party opposed it. Yet whatever this economic and fiscal policy tool’s historical controversy, in early 2020 economists around the world, and Democratic and Republican party elites and popular voters, embraced this tool, notably enacting the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (a backronym, as this bill is abbreviated to the CARES Act), which appropriated $2 trillion in economic stimulus in order to combat a then-impending, now-real economic recession caused by the global pandemic of COVID-19, the largest economic stimulus in American history in both real terms and as a percentage – 10% – of the United States’s gross domestic product.

For most Americans, the most direct and immediate consequence of the CARES Act has been direct stimulus checks to most Americans, with all individuals over eighteen years old with a salary of less than $75,000 receiving a $1,200 stimulus check, and individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000 receiving a check which reduces by $5 for every $100 over $75,000 that a wage-earner makes. Any married couple making over $198,000 will also not receive any stimulus check, and all individuals with any children they have guardianship over will also receive $500 for each child. However, many individuals, beyond just high-income, have not received this check, either due to not having a bank account on file, being claimed as a dependent, glitches slowing delivery, or having a green-card pending. However, “People who exceed the income limit might still have a chance at the money — next year. That’s because the stimulus payments are technically an advance credit for next year’s tax season. The credit is just being paid right now,” according to journalist Andrew Keshner. In many states, debt-collectors can also garnish stimulus checks, but in California, an executive order prohibits this.

Despite Walnut Creek’s relatively affluent nature, most citizens and Las Lomas will likely receive full stimulus checks; the median individual income in Walnut Creek is $51,998 annually, much lower than $75,000, while median household income of Walnut Creek is $80,399 annually – a data figure that takes into account the preponderance of married couples, whose cap of $198,000 is much greater than this median household income.