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EDITORIAL: More stimulus checks for the dead on the way?

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he’s in favor of a second federal stimulus check for families and individuals similar to a proposal already passed by House Democrats. Qualified Americans previously received up to $1,200 each during legislation intended to minimize the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus.

Who says bipartisanship is dead? Not when it comes to printing money.

“I do. I support it, but it has to be done properly,” Mr. Trump said during an interview on Fox Business. “I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi &Co. have already passed the so-called HEROES Act, which would lavish another $3 trillion on various progressive causes masquerading as pandemic relief. That’s on top of the more than $3 trillion the government has already spent on virus-related programs. The HEROES Act includes another round of $1,200 checks for Americans whose incomes fall below a certain threshold.

What “larger numbers” Mr. Trump would endorse remains to be seen. But he’ll face a likely skirmish with Senate Republicans, who have been reluctant to blow out the debt beyond current levels, particularly on bailouts for state and local governments. But before the president and Congress debate the merit of additional checks, perhaps they should clean up the problems associated with the first round of payments.

Last month, the General Accounting Office revealed that the government delivered more than a million stimulus payments totaling $1.4 billion to dead people. Federal “agencies faced difficulties delivering payments to some individuals,” the GAO audit found, according to The New York Times, “and faced additional risks related to making improper payments to ineligible individuals, such as decedents and fraud.” For instance, “Lawyers at the IRS determined that they could not legally deny payments to people who filed their tax returns in 2018 or 2019, even if they had since died,” the Times reported. In addition, there’s no indication that the IRS and other agencies will ever be able to recover those taxpayer funds. Unless checks are returned voluntarily, “retrieving the money can be more expensive than absorbing the loss,” a former Treasury Department official told the newspaper.

No doubt Americans would welcome another round of “free” money deposited in their accounts. The politics in play during a presidential election year are impossible to avoid. But if the administration can convince the Senate to go along with additional stimulus payouts, the least all involved can do is settle on a bipartisan approach to minimizing obvious waste and fraud.

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