A majority of Americans want the government to spend money to solve the problem of inflation.
According to a poll conducted by Newsweek, roughly 63% of respondents agree that Uncle Sam should issue another round of stimulus checks to battle inflation, including 42% of respondents who strongly agree. Meanwhile, a meager 18% said they disagree, while 15% neither agree nor disagree. The poll was taken among eligible voters two weeks before the midterm elections.
In response to the lockdown-induced recession, lawmakers approved multiple rounds of stimulus checks over the past two years, including $1,200 payments issued through the CARES Act in the spring of 2020. An appropriations bill passed later in the year created $600 payments, while the American Rescue Plan greenlit $1,400 payments.
The legislative packages, which also included forgivable business loans and bailouts for state and local governments, led to the largest deficit spending in American history. The difference between revenue and expenditures surged from nearly $1 trillion in 2019 to $3.1 trillion in 2020, according to data from the Office of Management and Budget, while the current deficit of $1.4 trillion continues to exceed the last pre-recession deficit by roughly $400 billion after President Joe Biden passed multiple portions of his agenda.
Biden, however, recently argued that his policies decreased spending more than those enacted by his predecessor, who indeed oversaw rapid increases in spending even before the recession.
“On my watch, things have been different. The deficit has come down both years that I’ve been in office,” Biden said. “And I just signed legislation that’s going to reduce it even more in the decades to come. Now Republicans in Congress are doubling down on their commitment to explode the deficit again. Just this week, Republican leaders said if they get their way, they’re going to extend the Trump tax cuts, which are due to expire in a couple years.”
Multiple state governments have considered their own rounds of stimulus checks. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) signed a provision in June that will offer handouts between $200 and $1,050.
Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) renewed a push in August for $2,000 handouts, dismissing any concerns that the policy would worsen cost pressures. “It’s just mind-boggling, the sense that giving somebody who is trying to put food on the table or pay the rent, that that is somehow inflationary, when how many trillions of dollars did we give away to the very wealthy during the Trump years in tax breaks?” he remarked.
Despite their enthusiasm for more government spending, voters have their eyes on the economy and cost of living more than any other issues ahead of the midterm elections. One survey from ABC News and The Washington Post found that 84% of voters identify the economy as their top concern. While 43% of respondents to a survey from Bankrate reported that their finances are worse than two years ago, only 18% say they are better, and most of the individuals in the former category say Democrats are responsible.
Inflation has weighed on the economy over the past two years as supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages raise expenses for businesses. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, year-over-year inflation reached 8.2% in September.