Beware Fake News About A ‘4th Stimulus Check’

WASHINGTON ― Nobody in Congress is talking about new legislation to send the American people another stimulus payment ― but that hasn’t stopped news websites from posting bogus stories about a possible “fourth stimulus check.”

A piece on USA Today’s website Tuesday justifies the speculation by pointing to the recent surge in COVID-19 and noting that lawmakers previously sent out three stimulus checks in response to the pandemic. Stories on Newsweek.com have followed a Change.org petition advocating for monthly payments ― even though the petition started in 2020. The Spanish soccer site Marca.com has run a shocking number of headlines on the topic.

These headlines are trying to convert false hope into clicks. There is no discussion in Washington about another stimulus check.

Democrats do have a big social spending bill that would provide child care subsidies, expand access to pre-kindergarten and extend monthly child allowance payments, but the legislation contains no stimulus checks — and it’s totally stalled at the moment.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has refused to support the bill, and one of his least favorite provisions is the one that gives parents a monthly allowance. He’s worried about inflation and he has expressed concern that he thinks too many parents waste the money on drugs. In other words, this man is not about to vote for unconditional cash payments to everyone in America.

A weird thing about the “fourth stimulus check” stories is that according to Google Trends, interest in the topic is way down from last year. (Even then, another check was not on the table.)

The closest thing to a stimulus check anyone can look forward to is a tax refund from the IRS. Tax filing season starts on Jan. 24, and the IRS can start paying earned income tax credit and child tax credit refunds after Feb. 15. Child tax credit refunds will amount to as much as $1,800 per child, covering the first six months of last year when the IRS had not started the monthly payments.

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