The Change.org petition demanding $2,000 stimulus checks for every American adult every month is set to surpass 2.5 million signatures this week.
The petition, started by Vermont resident Stephanie Bonin in March of 2020, urges that Congress "support families with a $2,000 payment for adults and a $1,000 payment for kids immediately," and to continue doing so for "the duration of the [coronavirus] crisis."
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"No more waiting around for our government to send the help we need," Bonin added in an update to the petition a few months ago. "Sign to join our movement to get recurring checks to the people."
Clearly, a lot of people feel the same way, and some have been leaving messages on the petition's comments page explaining why they support Bonin's idea.
"Due to Covid, I lost my job in July 2020. I'm 62 y/o have worked since 1975," wrote one recent signatory. "I and millions of our fellow Americans are struggling to make ends meet. By helping us you're helping America become good again. Thank you."
"I'm struggling and need help. My rent, food and gas, among other expenses, have far outpaced my Social Security retirement check," wrote another petition signer. "Other counties have cared about their citizens enough to grant monthly payments to them for assistance through this difficult time. I wonder why our country doesn't care as much for us."
"I had a son during COVID who was in children's hospital for weeks and he cannot go to day care until he is at least 10 months old," testified a third. "Before this pandemic, I was making $16/hr. Now I stay at home with just my husband's income struggling to make ends meet. We are close to losing our house and the power has been turned off twice. All of our bills are a month behind."
Cause gaining momentum
Bonin's petition gathered 1 million signatures in its first month, even as the CARES Act that provided the first stimulus checks was passed. After that, however, it lost steam until December 2020, when local media coverage in Denver, where Bonin and her husband own a restaurant, gave more attention to the petition.
The signing rate then sped up, with the petition hitting 2 million signatures over the winter. It gained even momentum in May with national media coverage, and this week, it's on track to reach 2.5 million.
As of today (June 28), the petition signatures stand at about 2,440,000. If it ever gets to 3 million signatures, it will be one of the top-ranked petitions on Change.org.
Could $2,000 monthly checks really happen?
Even with 3 million signatures, though, it's not clear whether the petition can move the needle politically.
Despite recurring calls for recurring checks from some of the more liberal members of Congress, President Joe Biden doesn't seem inclined to go for a fourth stimulus check, not to mention new stimulus checks every month.
The advance child-tax-credit program built into Biden's American Rescue Plan, the same bill that provided the third round of stimulus checks, already will send monthly payments to parents and guardians of up to $300 for every child from July through December 2021.
The White House is now focused on getting Biden's infrastructure plan, now split into two parts, through Congress with at least some Republican support. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did say the White House would consider a fourth stimulus bill if Congress came up with one, but that's well short of an endorsement.
A big chunk of change
Providing what Bonin's petition demands — $2,000 monthly for every American adult, and $1,000 for every child under 18 — would be very expensive. By our math, that would add up to about $590 billion every month. Twelve months of such payments would come to a bit more than $7 trillion.
To put that in perspective, that yearly cost would be half a trillion dollars more than the $6.55 trillion the entire federal government spent in 2020, a crisis year. The government spent $4.4 trillion in 2019 and $4.1 trillion in 2018.
To pay for what the petition demands, the government would either have to raise taxes dramatically just as the economy is recovering from the coronavirus crisis, or borrow trillions more. With moderate Democrats holding the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, neither of those scenarios is likely to happen.