House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Republican lawmakers and the White House are engaging in “condescension” when they suggest a $600-per-week federal unemployment enhancement is too high and should be scaled back or ended.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke on ABC’s “This Week” about progress toward a new coronavirus stimulus package, at a time enhanced jobless benefits for millions of Americans has just expired.
Many Republicans have said that the emergency payment started in March is a financial disincentive for Americans to return to work, since some people can make more money by not working, and is disrupting labor markets.
Pelosi said that’s not supported by “data” but possibly by a few anecdotal cases. She allowed that at some point, supplemental unemployment payments could be pegged to the jobless rate — but not in the relief package now being negotiated.
“It’s condescension, quite frankly, because they’re saying, [people] really don’t need it; they’re just staying home because they make more money at $600,” Pelosi said.
Democrats are “unified in our support for the $600,” but Pelosi said Republicans “put on the floor a $200 proposal,” which she said does not meet the needs of the American families.
Mnuchin said the administration proposed a one-week extension of the $600 as a bridge to a longer-term solution, and that he was “surprised” Democrats didn’t agree to that.
But he said there’s “no question” the $600 a week extra payment can be a disincentive for workers.
He also said the U.S. must be careful about piling up “enormous” amounts of debt with new stimulus measures, days after Fitch Ratings revised its outlook on U.S. credit score to negative from stable.
Mnuchin, Pelosi, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer met for three hours on Saturday. They’re attempting to close the gulf between the $3.5 trillion virus relief package that Democrats passed in the House two month ago and the $1 trillion plan Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled last week.
Extra weekly aid for as many as 30 million jobless Americans has run out and the economy is sagging with a new surge of Covid-19 cases forcing many states to roll back reopening plans.
The most pressing issue in the talks is about extra federal unemployment benefits of $600 a week that ran out as of Friday, leaving millions of out-of-work Americans without an additional safety net at a time when the jobs market is still depressed. In addition, a moratorium on evictions expired July 24.
Democrats have rebuffed proposals from the Trump administration to extend lapsing supplemental unemployment benefits and the eviction moratorium temporarily while work on a broader package continues.
Hours after Saturday’s meeting was termed productive, Trump weighed in cryptically on the negotiations, tweeting “Payroll Tax Cut plus Dollars!”
A payroll tax holiday was one of Trump’s initial demands, but the idea had almost no support from lawmakers in both parties and was quickly dropped in the talks.
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