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Support grows for stimulus checks in exchange for COVID-19 vaccine

Support grows for stimulus checks in exchange for COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 11:12 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 14:12:39-05

Surveys suggest a growing number of Americans are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine, however the latest numbers from Gallup in mid-November show only 58 percent of those surveyed would get the vaccine.

A former lawmaker is among those suggesting giving people a stimulus check in exchange for getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

During an interview with CNBC, former Maryland Representative John Delaney suggested giving $1,500 for getting immunized.

“The faster we get 75 percent of this country vaccinated, the faster we end Covid and the sooner everything returns to normal,” Delaney said in an interview with CNBC.com.

Survey data shows a growing political divide about whether or not to take the vaccine, and Delaney told CNBC.com there has to be an incentive for “people to really accelerate their thinking about taking the vaccine.”

Delaney pointed out that while his plan would not force anyone to get vaccinated, there are already measures in the U.S. to encourage vaccination, including for children to attend school.

While his proposal seems enticing, it faces some big hurdles.

Sending people $1,500 checks in exchange for vaccination could cost upward of $380 billion. By comparison, the round of stimulus checks sent to Americans earlier this year totaled more than $270 billion so far.

Coronavirus relief spending is a hot topic in Congress, as Democrats and Republicans try to compromise and make an agreement before the end of the year. Democrats are backing a $900 billion starting point, while Republicans in the Senate say they want closer to $500 billion.

Delaney said the checks don’t have to be $1,500. He said the point is to create an incentive to increase how many people get vaccinated, because, in his opinion, once more people get vaccinated, “everything returns to normal, which means we don’t need any more programs (that Congress would create).”

Delaney’s proposal comes following another similar idea from Robert Litan, a fellow at the Brookings Institute and was formerly in the Clinton administration. He has a proposal that would pay Americans $1,000 to get vaccinated, a portion upfront, and another portion once a 70 percent vaccination threshold is reached.

Health experts believe a 70 percent threshold is needed to help with herd immunity, and help protect those who are unable to be vaccinated.

"Unlike previous payments, this is stimulus tied to socially responsible behavior. So society is getting a benefit from handing out the money," Litan told Business Insider.

A former top economic advisor to George W. Bush, N. Gregory Mankiw, has come out publicly in support of the idea, according to Business Insider.

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted his support of the idea.