Mar 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

AOC calls for direct coronavirus payments to be "universal"

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" that direct cash payments designed to curb the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic should be provided to all Americans, regardless of income levels.

Why it matters: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's "Phase 3" stimulus package proposal would send $1,200 payments to every American making less than $75,000 annually. The payment amount would be reduced by $5 for every $100 that an individual earns over $75,000 and phased out entirely for individuals making more than $99,000.

What she's saying:

"I do think it should be universal. I hear the argument of people saying, 'Why are you going to give a check to Bill Gates?' One of the things that we're saying is tax [the money] back a year from now so that we don't have to worry about a big complicated, bureaucratic means test upfront. Mail them all out to everybody, and let's get them back from the folks who don't need it next year."
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Between the lines: Poor families who do not have federal income tax liability would see smaller payments, though the minimum would be set at $600, according to the Washington Post.

  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) criticized that aspect of the bill on Twitter, saying: “Relief to families in this emergency shouldn’t be regressive. Lower-income families shouldn’t be penalized.”

The big picture: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on "Fox News Sunday" that he expects the Senate to vote on the "Phase 3" stimulus package on Monday morning.

  • It will part of one of the largest and most expensive stimulus packages in American history.

Go deeper: The coronavirus outbreak could hit every sector of the economy

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