“The economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus has left a growing number of American families desperately short of money. Images of hundreds of cars waiting in long lines at food banks across the country have become a symbol of the crisis, a contemporary equivalent of the old black-and-white images of Americans standing in bread lines during the Great Depression.
To ease the pain, at least a little, Congress voted in late March to send $1,200 each to most American adults. In this era of high-speed trading, digital wallets and instant payments, one might have imagined that the federal stimulus payments would be distributed quickly, too.
Instead, the first large wave of payments is only landing in bank accounts on Wednesday.
And tens of millions of Americans won’t get their stimulus payments until May — or later.
The slow pace is the result of a combination of outdated financial infrastructure and a remarkable lack of urgency. The mass distribution of stimulus payments has become a standard feature of the government’s response to economic downturns. Payments went out in 2001, and again in 2008, and now for the third time this century. Yet the government has not constructed a system to ensure that everyone gets money quickly.”