Trump administration's $1.8 trillion stimulus plan: direct payments, unemployment benefits - Josh Loe

Trump administration’s $1.8 trillion stimulus plan: direct payments, unemployment benefits

  • The Trump administration made a $1.8 trillion stimulus offer to Democrats, but they spurned it and said it didn’t do enough to tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • It contains $1,200 direct payments, $400 weekly federal unemployment benefits, and significant aid to states.
  • The White House’s renewed push for federal aid ahead of the election is a stark reversal from three days ago when Trump pulled the plug on negotiations.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Trump administration on Friday made a $1.8 trillion stimulus offer to Democrats on Friday, the largest one yet in their fluid negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But she rebuffed it by saying it didn’t provide a fuller plan for COVID-19 testing.

The White House is renewing an aggressive push to pass a government rescue package before the election, only three days after the president ended the talks and sparked criticism from some Republicans — a stark reversal. Democrats, however, did not appear eager to accept the administration’s offer.

“Of special concern, is the absence of an agreement on a strategic plan to crush the virus,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill wrote on Twitter after Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday.

He went on: “For this and other provisions, we are still awaiting language from the administration as negotiations on the overall funding amount continue.”

Trump favors a broad economic aid package. He suggested during a radio interview earlier on Friday he could support a stimulus plan bigger than the $2.2 trillion amount Democrats are seeking. He also wrote on Twitter that the aid package should “go big.”

The package contains numerous measures to provide more government assistance to individuals and businesses, per The Washington Post, citing two people familiar with the plan. To keep the price tag down, the plan repurposed nearly $400 billion in unspent relief funds from the spring.

Some of the provisions include:

  • $1,200 direct payments to adults plus $1,000 for each dependent child
  • $400 weekly federal unemployment benefits (end date unclear)
  • $300 billion in aid to state and local governments

The latest offer caps a volatile week in stimulus negotiations. Talks between Mnuchin and Pelosi veered in recent days from considering a standalone rescue bill for airlines to cutting a deal on a big government rescue package.

But Trump’s demands for a larger package collide with the economic disposition of many Republicans. Many GOP senators opposed a $1 trillion spending plan that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans introduced earlier this summer, citing their concern over the growing federal debt. 

There was similar GOP opposition to a “skinny” stimulus plan, which Democrats ultimately blocked last month.

“I’ve got a significant percentage of my members who think we’ve done enough and who are alarmed by the amount of national debt,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a campaign event in Kentucky on Thursday. He was cool on the prospect of passing a stimulus package before the election on Friday, given the ongoing Supreme Court nomination process of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Meanwhile, Pelosi said on MSNBC that Trump’s about-face was prompted by stocks sliding earlier in the week.

“He got a terrible backlash from it, including in the stock market, which is what he cares about,” she said. “And so then he started to come back little by little, and now a bigger package.”

Experts say sectors of the economy are slowing down and permanent layoffs are mounting. Unemployment claims have regularly topped 800,000 for almost every week since early August, far above pre-pandemic levels. In addition, the latest jobs report showed the economy regained 661,000 jobs, a sharp drop compared to the past three months.

The US still hasn’t recovered half the jobs it lost in March and April. Lawmakers authorized nearly $3 trillion in federal spending as the pandemic crashed into the economy, causing a colossal amount of job losses and small business failures.

Many economists across the political spectrum are urging Congress to approve more government spending to battle the pandemic and keep individuals and businesses afloat.

“I’m always concerned about the level of debt, but on this one, I’ll say we’re at war with this virus,” Bill Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former Republican staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, told Business Insider. “With low interest rates, you fight this with all the resources you have.”

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