FACT CHECK: Viral Post Claims Only 9% of The American Rescue Plan ‘Goes To The American People’
A viral Facebook post shared over 1,000 times claims only 9 percent of the American Rescue Plan “goes to the American people.”
One expert put the percentage of the House’s version of the $1.9 trillion package that goes to Americans at 45 percent, and another said it was about 47 percent. The 9-percent statistic stems from a comment by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about funding for direct COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The House passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package, on Feb. 27. The package, which has been criticized by some for funding unrelated projects, has since moved to the Senate, where senators voted Thursday to proceed to debate it, according to Axios.
“Only 9% of $1.9 trillion goes to the American people,” claims the viral Feb. 27 post. “let that sink in!!!” (RELATED: Did 44 Senators Vote Against Sending Americans Coronavirus Stimulus Payments?)
The Facebook post made the claim the same day the package was approved by the House. While the package is currently under debate in the Senate and still being amended, it is inaccurate to say only 9 percent of the House-passed version of the package is “going to the American people.”
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s Feb. 18 analysis of the House’s package states that $422 billion, or about 22 percent, goes toward providing $1,400-per-person stimulus payments. $246 billion, or roughly 13 percent of the House version’s $1.9 trillion, would extend unemployment programs through Aug. 29 with a weekly benefit of $400, according to the Feb. 18 analysis.
Among other measures, the House-approved package also allocates $25 billion for grants to restaurants and bars that lost revenue because of the pandemic, $12 billion for grants to airlines and contractors to freeze airline layoffs through September and $15 billion to for additional EIDL Advance grants of up to $10,000 per business, according to The Washington Post.
Erica York, an economist at the Tax Foundation, told Check Your Fact in an email that $856 billion or “45% of the $1.9 trillion” goes directly to Americans:
The House passed version contains $422 billion for direct payments to individuals, $109 billion for enhancing the child tax credit, nearly $26 billion for enhancing the Earned Income Tax Credit, nearly $8 billion for enhancing the child and dependent care tax credit, $45 billion in expanded premium tax credits and other health care subsidies, and $246 billion for expanded unemployment insurance. Together, that adds up to $856 billion, or about 45% of the $1.9 trillion and that is not counting the public health measures such as vaccination and testing and tracing that would benefit Americans or other measures such as increased nutrition assistance and other similar expansions of programs.
York noted the Senate is “considering tightening the income limits on the direct payments.” That would “reduce the cost of direct payments by $15 billion to $20 billion,” but “even under the Senate design significantly more than 9 percent of the total cost will be in direct payments,” she said.
Ben Ritz, the director of the Progressive Policy Institute’s Center for Funding America’s Future, told Check Your Fact via email that even by the “narrowest possible definition,” around $900 billion of the House-passed package would go directly to Americans.
“All of this money is going to the American people in some form or another,” Ritz said. “But even if you wanted to limit it to the narrowest possible definition – direct cash payments to households in the form of stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, and refundable tax credits – that accounts for roughly $900 billion of the $1.9 trillion total cost.”
The claim likely stemmed from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said during a recent Fox News interview, “Only 9 percent of it goes to COVID.” The New York Times reported that a McCarthy spokeswoman said that percentage referred to the $160 billion allocated for expanding COVID-19 testing, as well as public health jobs and national vaccination programs.
The New York Times characterized McCarthy’s comment as “misleading” and a “rather narrow interpretation of pandemic-related funding.”