Monthly Stimulus Checks? Recurring Payments Could Get Another Ally After Ohio Primary

If former Ohio state senator Nina Turner wins the Democratic primary for Ohio's 11 Congressional district on Tuesday, a coalition of legislators looking to send out recurring stimulus checks could gain an ally.

Democrats have been pushing for recurring payments since the start of the pandemic and on Friday, Representative Ilhan Omar introduced a bill that would provide monthly payments to an estimated 161 million people. Omar endorsed Turner, who has repeatedly called for additional payments, and if she wins her election, Turner could join the push for universal basic income.

Turner posted on Twitter in June that basic income should be "universal" and she's been discussing the concept for years. She's also been a vocal critic of legislators' failure to include recurring payments as part of the COVID-19 relief packages.

"COVID-19 relief without a $2K/month [universal basic income] is not relief," she wrote on Twitter in August 2020.

She's kept up the push for recurring payments, and she called stimulus payments "survival checks," noting in June the decline in food shortages and financial stability. Given the help they provided to people, Turner said progressives were pushing Congress to pass additional relief.

nina turner stimulus checks recurring
If Congressional candidate Nina Turner wins the Ohio primary and the special election in November, progressives would gain an ally for monthly stimulus checks. Turner speaks during a Get Out the Vote rally at Agora Theater & Ballroom on July 31 in Cleveland. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Turner, who is considered a frontrunner in the race, is backed by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representatives Cori Bush and Pramila Jayapal. All three legislators support recurring payments and Jayapal and Bush signed on as original cosponsors of Omar's legislation.

If Omar's legislation passes, it would send out payments of at least $1,200 to adults and half the amount to children. Individuals making over $75,000 and joint filers with incomes above $150,000 would receive a reduced credit and payments would be reduced by $5 for every $100 a person earns above that amount.

Payments wouldn't begin on a national scale until 2028 and would be automatically adjusted for inflation, so they could be more than $1,200.

"We as a nation have the ability to make sure everyone has their basic needs like food, housing and healthcare met," Omar said in a statement. "The world needs new economic indicators and economic policies that will prioritize and encourage truly sustainable and equitable growth."

While it would be the first nationwide guaranteed income program, several areas of the United States have tried the concept, including in Omar's home state of Minnesota. Saint Paul's program provides 150 families with $500 payments each month for a period of up to 18 months. Several counties in California have tried basic income and in July, legislators passed the first statewide program. Alaska has also had a universal basic income program in place for years.

Turner is running to fill a seat left vacant when former Representative Marcia Fudge became President Joe Biden's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Given the hold Democrats have on the district, it's likely if Turner wins the primary, she'll win the general election in November.

In the final week of the race, Shontel Brown appeared to gain ground on Turner's lead and it's expected to be a close race. Brown has the support of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

It's possible the election will come down to voter turnout, as there's concern that few people will go to the polls because they're not used to voting in August. However, the race is also considered to be an indicator of how voters see the future of the Democratic Party. If Turner wins, it could indicate voters want the party to move in a more progressive direction, upping pressure on more moderate members to get on board with certain issues, including universal basic income.