White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett and other Trump administration officials said again on Sunday that they do not believe a fourth economic stimulus package to address the coronavirus impact is needed right now.
This comes as House Democrats are moving toward passing such a measure as early as within the week. Congressional Democrats say such a bill is needed to provide aid for state and local governments, as well as other items.
Asked to respond to governors from across the country, including Republicans, who have expressed concerns about their states’ capacity to fund essential sectors like education and emergency services without financial help from the federal government, Hassett told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that he thinks it is still “premature” to pass a fourth phase of stimulus funding. He said the Trump administration is watching both economic activity and the path of the disease while assessing whether or not to move forward with more legislation.
“I think that it’s just premature given that the $9 trillion of aid that passed in the last three phases, given that that is still out there and there’s still a bunch of it that’s going to be delivered over the next month,” Hassett said in an interview with Tapper. “We think that we have a little moment … the luxury of a moment to learn about what’s going on so that the next step that we take can be prudent.”
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that there are informal discussions underway on a new congressional stimulus bill, and that he and Hassett spoke to about 40 members of the House of Representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, on Friday.
Another call with the both Republican and Democratic senators is scheduled for Monday, Kudlow said. They are collecting “ideas for next steps” from members of Congress on the calls.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a gaggle with reporters on Sunday, reiterated that the administration is taking a wait-and-see approach regarding the next stimulus bill.
“Before we rush back into the next bill and spend more taxpayer money, we just want to be thoughtful,” he said.
Hassett noted measures taken in previous phases that have allowed states to use federal funds to pay first responders. He said if the administration moves forward with a fourth phase of legislation, President Donald Trump has signaled that he is willing to help states cover “unexpected (Covid-19) expenses,” but not to help bail them out.
“I think, right now, the key is to watch the data and to make sure the next move is as smart as the previous three,” Hassett said.
Asked by CNN’s Kristen Holmes if additional checks for Americans were an option, Mnuchin said Sunday that it’s possible.
“It’s one of the things that we’re considering on the list,” Mnuchin said. “I want to thank the Senate and the House for having acted very quickly in an emergency basis. We now have over $3 trillion we’re putting into the economy. A lot of that money is just beginning to get into the economy. We’re working with the Federal Reserve on close to another $3 trillion of facility and liquidities. These are all beginning to have a very positive impact.”
Munchin said if there is another stimulus bill the administration wants to see a payroll tax cut in it – something the President has pushed but some Republicans and Democrats have opposed.
The Treasury Secretary said he’s been having conversations with Republicans and Democrats, but they have been mainly focused on the execution of existing programs.