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Trump administration considering ‘back-to-work’ bonuses as part of next stimulus

The Trump administration said Tuesday that it is considering a weekly back-to-work bonus for Americans returning to employment, part of a range of options the administration is weighing to revive the economy as the country begins to reopen.

“It may well be, it’s something we’re looking at very carefully,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday when asked about the proposal put forward by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “Senator Portman has a good idea, he understands incentives and disincentives.”

Portman has called for unemployed Americans who are returning to work to keep $450 out of the $600 a week they’re getting in additional federal unemployment benefits as a kind of “return to work” bonus — but it would expire at the end of July.

It comes amid concerns and reports that a number of laid-off workers are receiving more in unemployment than they were before the pandemic.

“I’m hearing from a lot of small business employers in Ohio who are ready to go, ready to start reopening again, that it’s been very difficult for them to get workers to come back when they can make more, sometimes substantially more on unemployment insurance,” Portman recently told Fox News.

Kudlow agreed with that assessment.

“The trouble with the $600-plus up, and maybe we needed it in that emergency period, but frankly it’s a major disincentive to go back to work and we don’t want that, we want people to go back to work,” he said.

“So we’re looking at that, I think the basic point is correct,” he added.

The administration is considering a number of measures in order to stimulate the economy, amid discussions of a “phase 4” of economic stimulus to help reinvigorate the economy and get Americans back to work.

Kudlow reiterated that President Trump is also considering a payroll tax holiday until the year’s end, among other measures.

But it’s unclear how such measures would fare with congressional Democrats. This month, the Democrat-controlled House passed a $3 trillion stimulus package — but one that is almost certainly doomed to failure in the GOP-controlled Senate. That package included an extension of the $600-a-week in extra unemployment benefits.

Kudlow said he believes such an extension of those federal benefits will not be in the final package at the end of negotiations.

“I frankly do not believe the $600-plus up will survive the next round of talks, but I think we will have substitutes to deal with that issue,” he added.


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