In a sign that the White House is interested in sending out unrestricted cash to help Americans pay the bills amid the shutdown of much of the economy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the Trump administration is discussing sending checks to Americans “immediately” to help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Americans need to get cash now and the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now— in the next two weeks,” Mnuchin said Tuesday.
It’s still unclear who would get money and how much, but Mnuchin indicated that it would be aimed towards those most hurt by the coronavirus outbreak.
“We don’t need to send people who make a million dollars a year checks,” Mnuchin said.
Some on Capitol Hill and liberal and conservative economists have called for direct government payments of $1,000 to every American adult. Mnuchin said the amount of each check “may be a little bit bigger than what’s in the press.”
President Donald Trump, who was conducting the briefing with Mnuchin, added that he wants to “go big” — to not have to go back to Congress repeatedly for additional stimulus measures, but enact a big measure at once.
The implication is that this method will be faster and more direct than a payroll tax cut, but beyond that, we’re short on details. And those details really matter.
A payroll tax cut, for instance, only benefits people currently working, does nothing for people who’ve been laid off or for hourly workers, and, as Mnuchin suggested, moves slowly. An unrestricted cash check of, say, $1,000 to every American adult, as Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has proposed, would also benefit people out of work, those on fixed incomes or living on disability or retirement benefits, and so on.
Mnuchin also announced that the government will defer up to $300 billion in tax payments, allowing individuals to defer up to a million dollars and corporations to defer up to $10 million for corporations — interest-free and penalty-free for 90 days.
Mnuchin said that the administration intends to keep financial markets open, but shorter hours may be necessary.
This is a developing story.