The U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS are planning to send out around 4 million Economic Impact Payments (EIP) via Visa prepaid debit cards rather than paper checks this week, according to a Treasury Department press release.
The EIP cards can be used for purchases, withdrawals from ATMs and transfers to bank accounts. They will come with protections against fraud and loss available to traditional bank account owners.
The EIP cards are part of the Treasury’s U.S. Debit Card Program, which aims to get payments out electronically for people without bank information registered with the IRS.
The payment cards represent a large part of the final wave of individual stimulus payments that went out amid the initial coronavirus response with March’s CARES Act. Most of the payments have now been disbursed.
Now, the question moves to whether any future payments to individuals will come. House Democrats last week proposed a $3 trillion plan called the HEROES Act, which, in part, allots more money than before for individuals. It would give each individual in a household $1,200, up to a $6,000 cap, which could stimulate retail and restaurants still struggling due to the financial effects of the pandemic.
The idea doesn’t have traction with Republicans, and some critics say Congress has spent enough money already on relief, according to Forbes. Others have accused Democrats of using the stimulus bills to add items that are not related to the pandemic.
Billionaire Mark Cuban has critiqued the efforts to stimulate the economy, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which he called a failure. Cuban said the main problem is that it didn’t matter how much money went out to anyone if the economy was still in the mud due to people’s reluctance to go out and spend as well as businesses’ reluctance to stay closed as a result.
His solution was a program in which people would get sent $1,000 every two weeks for two months and have to spend it before the next check came two weeks after that. He also said there should be a new jobs program to train people to work as contact tracers to help strategically stop the coronavirus.