Proposals are very preliminary, senior administration official says
As Americans await relief from the $2 trillion stimulus package passed less than two weeks ago, the Trump administration and Congress have begun deliberations on a fourth aid plan intended to alleviate economic pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent days, White House officials have discussed pitching a payroll-tax cut, a capital-gains tax cut, creating 50-year Treasury bonds and a waiver that would clear businesses of liability from workers who contract COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, on the job, a senior administration official confirmed to FOX Business.
But the proposals are very preliminary, according to the official, and do not reflect any sort of presidential direction beyond what President Trump has already mentioned. Last week, Trump called for a $2 trillion infrastructure bill focused on jobs and rebuilding the nation’s crumbling bridges and roads that he said would serve as “phase 4.”
With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2020
Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House on Monday that he’s discussed the possibility of a coronavirus-related Treasury bond to raise cash for relief efforts.
“We’re just looking at it,” he said. “Let’s see where it leads.”
Democrats have pushed for another round of aid, as well, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushing for more money for states, free coronavirus treatment, worker protections and expanded paid family and sick leave. But Pelosi is publicly at odds with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans, who have taken a wait-and-see approach to additional legislative help.
“I think we’ll have to wait and see,” McConnell said last week during an interview on the “Hugh Hewitt Show.” “Remember, this bill was only signed into law last Friday. So it’s only been law for about four days. And the Speaker is already talking about another bill.”
The U.S. has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, with at least 337,971 people infected, according to Johns Hopkins University data. More than 9,600 people in the country have died from the virus.
The depth of the economic downturn is still unknown, but early data indicates it will be severe: In the final two weeks of the month, a record-shattering 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits, surging past the levels seen during the worst of the 2008 financial crisis.
Restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, automakers and entertainment venues have been hit hard by the pandemic as a growing number of jurisdictions have ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and directed residents to stay at home.
Estimates vary drastically for how high unemployment will climb, but economists broadly agree that it will be grim.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act that Trump signed at the end of March includes a cash check of up to $1,200 for individuals who earn less than $99,000; expanded unemployment benefits and $350 billion in loans for small businesses.
FOX Business’ Blake Burman contributed to this report.
Author: Megan Henney