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President Trump indicated on Wednesday that he supports additional economic stimulus measures to help American households through the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet he was unclear about what those measures should entail—indicating only that he would support “larger” stimulus checks to Americans while cutting back on unemployment benefits for those who’ve lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
“I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats,” Trump told Fox Business, referring to the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives in May, which would provide American households with up to $6,000 in direct stimulus payments.
But the President did not specify what those “larger numbers” would be. He also expressed skepticism about extending unemployment benefits that have provided tens of millions of Americans with needed support—such as an extra $600 per week in unemployment insurance—while the pandemic has forced large swaths of the U.S. economy to shut down.
“We had something where it gave you a disincentive to work last time,” he said. “You’d make more money if you don’t go to work. That’s not what this country is all about… We want to create a tremendous incentive for people to want to go back to work.”
Expanded unemployment benefits—which, like stimulus checks, were passed by Congress via the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March—are widely believed to have helped insulate the economy from even further damage as a result of the pandemic. Some economists have expressed concerns that conditions could deteriorate if such assistance is withdrawn or insufficiently replaced with weaker benefits.
But Trump said he believed the economy was “headed back in a very strong fashion, with a V”—despite evidence that a so-called “V-shaped recovery” from the shock of the pandemic is fanciful at best.
Trump added that he would be meeting with congressional lawmakers to “make a determination” on what future unemployment benefits could look like. Again, he was vague on the specifics.
“It’s gonna be a good number, a substantial number,” he said. “People are going to be very happy.”
Reports last week suggested that the President was privately advocating for additional direct payments to Americans, with the belief that they would further strengthen the economy and boost his chances of reelection this fall.
Meanwhile, Trump continued to express his hope that the coronavirus itself—which on Tuesday killed more than 600 Americans—would cease ravaging both the U.S. population and economy.
“I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus,” he said. “I think at some point, that’s going to disappear, I hope. And I think we’re going to have a vaccine very soon, too.”
While we’re waiting, this nifty tool lets you calculate what you or your family would receive in stimulus checks if the most concrete proposal on the table, the HEROES Act from House Democrats, were to pass.