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After promising to kill it just last month, the top White House economic adviser is now reversing course and promising to extend a special $600 federal unemployment compensation benefit.
Congress established the $600 federal benefit for unemployed Americans in March, as part of an overall $2 trillion economic rescue package to help blunt the worst of the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans have complained about that benefit ever since, and have vowed to kill it once it sunset at the end of July.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow followed that Republican line last month, pledging that the extra $600 benefit certainly would end in July, even as 20 million or so remained out of work.
Democrats have been looking to extend the benefit through January. Aside from providing additional income for those jobless Americans who also collect their state-based unemployment compensation, the federal benefit also allows those Americans who are out-of-work “gig workers” to collect unemployment compensation who would be ineligible for state-based compensation.
Meanwhile, 75 percent of Americans support the extension of the $600 benefit, according to a recent Morning Consult poll.
Kudlow has now changed his tune, saying that the Trump administration now supports an extension of the benefit, albeit with some “reform.”
“We’re look at some options, by the way, some people are asking me, ‘Why are you getting rid of unemployment benefits when you still have a lot of unemployment?’ The answer: ‘We’re not,'” Kudlow said.
“We know there’s hardship out there. We’ve had tremendous rebound in jobs, and I think much more is coming, but we’re not getting rid of unemployment benefits,” he added. “Now, a couple things: We are looking at various ways to cap total unemployment benefits, federal and state and local. We’re looking at various ways to do that which will provide plenty of liquidity and support and assistance to those who don’t have a job to go back to. But it will not deter them from working. We will keep the incentive structure to go back to work in play. Second, we’re looking at reemployment benefits. I can’t quote specific numbers because that’s still under discussion. But that, too, will provide an incentive go back to work, reemployment. And third comes the president’s strong view that we should have a payroll tax holiday.
“You know, we could, Maria, on the payroll tax do what we did on the business side back in March,” Kudlow said in an on-air interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo. “Business had a payroll tax holiday. I don’t know if people understand that.”
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