What do you think when you read this tweet?
"We've got more work to do, but this year, we signed historic legislation to lower costs for working families and seniors, help keep our communities safe from gun violence, and create good-paying jobs across the country. I look forward to more progress in the new year."
The tweet was posted by President Joe Biden on New Year's Eve, and it appears that the portion that caught the attention of many was that last sentence: "I look forward to more progress in the new year."
Here, we take a look at how a simple sentence took on a life of its own.
Rumors are contagious
Rumors are funny. Once a rumor has been repeated, others join in, sure they're right. That's what happened on New Year's Eve. Someone posted online that Biden's message was meant to signal another round of stimulus checks.
Within days, numerous websites reported on the tweet, offering hope that everyday Americans are in for another deposit into their bank accounts.
Why the hubbub?
A Newsweek survey found that 63% of respondents support the idea of stimulus checks to help fight inflation. Of those respondents, 42% said they "strongly agree."
While inflation is cooling, monthly household budgets have suffered through months of rising prices thanks to the global pandemic.
Another round of federal stimulus checks could cause more inflation, according to some economists, but still, hope lingers for households struggling to pay bills.
Was Biden's tweet actually a secret message?
Chances are, the president's tweet was precisely what it appeared to be: A U.S. president highlighting legislative accomplishments of 2022 and wishing for more in 2023. Biden, of all people, understands what an uphill battle he has on his hands, thanks to a newly elected Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The odds of House Republicans backing any fresh stimulus checks are slim to none.
It's possible that one of the things Biden would like to accomplish in 2023 is the return of an expanded Child Tax Credit. Expanding the credit and sending monthly payments to households with children in 2021 helped pull millions of children out of poverty. Biden has made no secret of his support for working families.
When the expanded Child Tax Credit was first introduced, Biden hoped it would continue at least through 2025. Instead, Republicans in Congress put the nix on it after six months, and the Child Tax Credit reverted back to its old form.
If stimulus of any kind is up for debate, it's likely to be in the form of the Child Tax Credit, particularly because there are some Republicans who also support aid to families with children.
There's an Italian proverb that says, "Hope is the last thing ever lost." Perhaps the rumor mill regarding a single tweet churned so quickly because people hoped the government would find a way to ease their financial burdens.
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