Kudlow: Unemployment assistance would be ‘smart’ to help economy
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow discusses the possibility of additional stimulus, Joe Biden’s plans to raise taxes and how the Trump administration has rebuilt the U.S. economy.
A program from President Trump to boost unemployment benefits for the millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to expire in some states.
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Texas, Utah, Iowa, Arizona, Montana, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri are among the states that have announced the end of the $300-a-week supplement, established under an executive measure signed by Trump at the beginning of August.
Under the Aug. 8 edict, the federal government gave unemployed workers an extra $300 in weekly payments. Trump allocated $44 billion to cover the sweetened aid, using money from the Disaster Relief Fund, which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It partially restored the $600-a-week benefit that expired at the end of July.
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Without the federal supplement, the average state unemployment benefit will return to about $330 per week.
The Trump administration is reportedly weighing another series of executive actions amid a congressional impasse over a coronavirus relief package. Officials have discussed efforts to unilaterally bolster federal unemployment benefits, according to The Washington Post, citing two people aware of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"We’re looking at all possible avenues to continue giving relief to Americans from an executive standpoint, in lieu of Democrats agreeing to a legislative deal," Ben Williamson, a senior adviser for White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the Washington Examiner.
Although Republicans and Democrats broadly support extending sweetened unemployment benefits (though they disagree on the amount), a deadlock over the next aid package has continued to persist more than one month after negotiations first collapsed, imperiling the chances of a stimulus deal before the November election.
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Under Trump's order, states will issue up to six weeks of payments to eligible workers, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said. That means the maximum benefit workers could receive is $1,800 over the course of those six weeks.
Forty-nine states, plus Washington, D.C, Guam and the Virgin Islands, signed up to pay out the federal portion of the aid. South Dakota chose to not apply for the money.
Montana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Kansas were the only states that have committed to kicking in an additional $100 to laid-off workers on top of the $300 supplement, meaning workers in those states will receive up to $2,400 over the six weeks.
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Only people who are receiving at least $100 in unemployment assistance through regular state programs or other aid initiatives like a shared-work program are eligible for the boosted benefits, according to a White House memo.
Government data released at the beginning of September shows the labor market is far from pre-crisis levels: Employers added 1.4 million jobs in August and the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%, but there are still 11.5 million more out-of-work Americans than there were in February.
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