If US President Donald Trump would have his way, the new coronavirus stimulus package would include incentives to support Americans who want to go back to work. Previously approved stimulus packages provided extra money for the unemployed, and Trump and the rest of the Republican Party want it the other way.
Trump Wants Work Incentives Included in Next Stimulus Bill, Not Additional Unemployment Insurance
In an interview with the Fox Business Network yesterday, the President remarked: “We want to create a very great incentive to work. So, we’re working on that and I’m sure we’ll all come together.” He noted that the recent stimulus packages created a disincentive for people to return to work. Republicans have argued that supplemental unemployment benefits encourage workers to stay at home instead of looking for a job. The GOP prefers benefits to go to workers returning to work.
Reps: It’s About Getting Americans Back to Work
During the interview, the President was adamant that Americans are raring to get back to work.
“It was an incentive, not to go to work. You’d make more money if you don’t go to work – that’s not what the country is all about…and people didn’t want that. They wanted to go to work, but it didn’t make sense because they make more money if they didn’t.”
Trump’s remarks gave a preview to what’s in store in Congress when hearings resume later this month to deliberate on the next stimulus package. Most likely, the Republicans will oppose any efforts made by Dems to renew the enhanced unemployment insurance, a provision that provides an additional $600 to unemployed workers, and is set to expire by July 31.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) termed the supplement a “bonus not to go back to work.” The Kentucky senator has already vowed that the unemployment benefit included in the previous CARES Act in March won’t be included in the next phase of the coronavirus stimulus package, which is targeted for ratification by end of the month.
But that doesn’t mean that unemployment will not be addressed. McConnell clarified that
“Unemployment is extremely important. And we need to make sure, for those who are not able to recover their jobs, unemployment is adequate…that is a different issue from whether we ought to pay people a bonus not to go back to work. And so I think that was a mistake…and we’re hearing it all over the country that it’s made it harder actually to get people back to work. But to have the basic protections of unemployment insurance is extremely important and should be continued.”
Republicans have instead favored back-to-work bonuses instead of additional unemployment benefits. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) proposes giving Americans who return to work a $450 weekly bonus, while Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), has proposed giving returning workers a one-time $1,200 payment.
Dems: Extend the Unemployment Insurance, but With Some Conditions
On the other side, while Democrats are pushing to extend the enhanced unemployment benefits, they did so with some form of control in place. For starters, the program will phase itself out once the state reports a lowering of unemployment rates to a certain threshold. This gives the benefit an end that is synced with a change in economic conditions, a marked improvement compared to the ongoing provision that features an arbitrary end date.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who introduced the bill with Senate Finance Committee member Ron Wyden(D-Or), said cutting off the benefit can potentially mean that “millions of American families will have their legs cut out from underneath them at the worst possible time — in the middle of a pandemic when unemployment is higher than it’s been since the Great Depression.”
The Dem’s proposed legislation would extend unemployment insurance through March but would lower its amount depending on how well the economy recovers, especially with unemployment numbers. It would be cut by $100 for every percentage point the jobless rates fall below 11%, and will phase out when it slides below 6%.
So, Which Is Which?
With deliberations set to begin as soon as both Houses resume work on July 20, there is pressure to have something in place prior to July 31 expiration of CARES Act. Fortunately, there seems to be a large common ground where both Republicans and Democrats can coexist. With cases of coronavirus spiking again and in higher numbers, some of the larger states have begun holding back on their plans to reopen their economy. A continued stimulus package would help the majority of Americans to deal with this unique global phenomenon, and may yet again help boost the economy like it did the last time. As to what extent the support will turn out to be, Congress has its work cut out for its players.
Watch Trump’s talk about the new coronavirus stimulus package:
Outside of party lines, do you agree with the complete removal of additional unemployment benefits and instead reward Americans who went back to work instead? Or, do you prefer additional support for the unemployed?