The 2009 economic stimulus, usually called the Making Work Pay tax credit, provided slightly bigger paychecks for the middle class throughout part of 2009 and all of 2010. This benefit is in danger of expiring if Congress does not act to extend or renew the credit. This stimulus took a different form than those previous. In the recent past, the government sent checks to Americans for a lump sum, encouraging consumers to put that money directly to use.
Most people used the free money to increase savings or pay off debt, which may have had indirect stimulating effects, but the country remained in a recession. By spreading the credit out by including a small bump in each pay check, economists believed that consumers would grow accustomed to having extra money and the stimulus would be incorporated into everyday finances.
If the credit disappears, pay checks would decrease by about $15 every two weeks in 2011. This could be seen as a tax hike on the middle (working) class. Extending the credit for one year would cost the government, and therefore the taxpayers, $60 billion. Whether Congress could pass such a bill now is anyone’s guess.
Updated October 9, 2016 and originally published July 27, 2010.