Larry Kudlow, White House chief economic advisor, said Tuesday the Trump administration “may well” get behind the idea of a back-to-work bonus for workers in the next coronavirus aid package, a proposal that’s starting to gather steam among some GOP senators.
One proposal from Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) would provide unemployed workers an extra $450 weekly bonus for a limited time, in addition to wages, if they go back to work.
Republicans are aiming to offer an alternative to Democrats’ push to continue $600 weekly federal unemployment payments, which come on top of state unemployment benefits. Some conservatives fear the amount is so high that it may be keeping people from returning to work. Some Democrats, meanwhile, are looking to use the employee tax credit as a way to subsidize wages.
“It’s something we’re looking at very carefully. Senator Portman has a good idea. He understands incentives and disincentives,” Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said on Fox News. “The trouble with the $600 plus-up, and maybe we needed it in that emergency period, but frankly it’s a major disincentive to go back to work and we don’t want that. We want people to go back to work.”
Kudlow also said the administration is still keen on a payroll tax holiday, an idea that members of both parties have given a lukewarm reception.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week told House Republicans that Congress still needed to wait and see the impact of its previous rounds of aid, whose eye-popping totals added up to almost $3 trillion.
McConnell also drew a line in the sand: An extension of the enhanced unemployment benefits won’t be happening, he said. “I frankly do not believe the $600 plus-up will survive the next round of talks, but I think we’ll have substitutes to deal with that issue,” Kudlow said Tuesday.
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