In addition to offering economic relief to airlines, the administration also expressed support for cutting checks directly to Americans.
The Trump administration plans to ask for $850 billion in additional stimulus to support the economy, which is on the verge of recession as the coronavirus pandemic causes stocks to fall, businesses to close, and workers to be laid off.
The package would include President Trump’s long sought after payroll tax cuts and over $50 billion in direct economic relief to the airline industry. Fox News’ White House correspondent John Roberts reports that the bill includes $500 billion in payroll tax cuts, $250 billion in Small Business Association loans, and $58 billion for airlines.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said the administration was considering sending checks to individuals.
“Americans need cash now and the president wants to get cash now. And I mean now, in the next two weeks,” Mnuchin said during a Tuesday press conference.
Mnuchin did not specify the size of the check but said he would be presenting the administration’s proposal to Republican senators on Tuesday, some of whom are already reluctant to support the first coronavirus relief bill the House passed last week. That initial bill includes paid sick leave for qualified workers, expanded unemployment benefits, additional Medicaid funds for states, and enhanced food assistance programs.
Some White House officials also want to include more assistance for small businesses and their employees, the Washington Post reports. The Treasury Department is also planning to delay tax filing and payments without penalties past April 15. During his press conference Tuesday, Mnuchin said the government was deferring $300 billion in IRS payments. He suggested anyone who was due a refund file their payments, but urged others to wait, adding that they could defer up to $1 million as an individual or $10 million as a corporation, penalty-free for 90 days.
The White House proposal could face opposition from Democrats, who oppose payroll tax cuts and bailing out industries and instead remain focused on helping workers, healthcare providers, schools, and senior citizens. They are likely to be more supportive of efforts to send money directly to Americans.
Democrats have their own proposals, too. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to present his own $750 billion proposal Tuesday. His plan includes measures to expand unemployment insurance, increase Medicaid funding, fund emergency childcare, expand healthcare investments, provide loan assistance, and freeze evictions and foreclosures.
“We need big, bold immediate federal action to deal with the crisis,” Schumer said Monday.
While the Republican-led Senate has yet to comment on Mnuchin’s proposal, it is likely to gain traction with at least some lawmakers. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Monday came out in support of sending $1,000 checks to every American adult, and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas also supports providing more direct help to ordinary Americans. Cotton, however, is wary of the House’s paid leave proposal and wants to provide $1,000 tax rebates to every American.
Cotton’s plan would also provide more loans to small businesses and temporarily expand eligibility and adjust requirements for public-assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Unemployment Insurance, to cover more Americans.
While some Republicans are on board with providing help to Americans, influential conservatives Arthur Laffer, Steve Forbes, and Stephen Moore issued a joint statement Tuesday opposing paid leave and unemployment benefits, saying the measures would “inhibit growth and discourage work.”
It’s unclear whether these conservatives heard the news that the world is in the midst of a pandemic before issuing their statement. Regardless, the pressure on the federal government to take real action continues to build as the economy continues to hurtle toward recession. The Dow Jones fell nearly 3,000 points (13%) on Monday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq each fell about 12% as well.