The governor of Pennsylvania on Monday called on the state legislature to provide $2,000 in stimulus payments for some families to “survive inflation,” although such programs have been flagged by critics as contributing to price pressures.
“I want to give Pennsylvanians the step up they need to survive inflation and higher prices. So, $2,000 to any family, to families making $80,000 dollars or less. We estimated that about 250,000 families will apply for this,” Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf said.
That’s the second time Wolf has attempted to get a bill passed that would hand out payments, he added. The commonwealth can afford to do so because it has an $800 billion economy, Wolf asserted.
“So that’s a 500-million-dollar operation expense and it’s going to provide needed buffers against high prices,” Wolf added, according to Fox News. “And we hope prices are up temporarily, but it’s going to give families some room to get back on their feet.”
Pennsylvania has “the ability to do this” due to Pennsylvania’s finances, he said at an event in Sharpsburg, local media reported. “We can actually help families get lifesaving medicine, out-of-state funds. We can help families stay in their homes,” Wolf continued. “We can help families afford to eat. Why on earth wouldn’t we do it? Especially now again when we have the money sitting in the bank?”
The move is likely a political tactic ahead of the 2022 midterms. Wolf and other Democrats will likely use the prospect of passing a bill that authorizes $2,000 stimulus checks for lower-income individuals in a bid to increase voter turnout.
“So I’m calling on Republican leaders in the General Assembly. We all are calling on Republican leaders in the General Assembly to step up and send this bill to my desk,” Wolf said. “Promise you I’ll sign it quickly. Let’s put this cash back in the pockets of Pennsylvanians where it belongs. Let’s help families get through this tough time.”
Other states have moved to send out stimulus checks and tax refunds after the federal government pumped in billions of dollars in the form of COVID-19 relief assistance in the past years. However, some state legislators and officials said the stimulus checks are needed to provide individuals with relief amid surging inflation as the Consumer Price Index, according to federal officials, stood at 8.5 percent in July.
According to Christina Herrin from the nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), stimulus checks by states are a “fruitless attempt to combat inflation.”
In a July 22 blog post, Herrin said that there is “no evidence” for the claim that artificially pumping money into the economy will halt inflation. The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion America Rescue Act, which included the third round of stimulus checks, was a “significant factor” in pushing up inflation to four-decade highs, she stated.
“A one-time payment for ‘inflation relief’ is far different than tax rebates that many states are providing to all taxpayers based on income. They are feel-good band-aids that will make everything more expensive and keep inflation going longer than it would otherwise,” Herrin said.
Naveen Athrappully contributed to this report.