Next relief package to include more direct payments: Trump adviser

Larry Kudlow, US President Donald Trump’s economic adviser, has said that the next round of COVID-19 relief package will include $1,200 direct payments to Americans, as a resurgence of coronavirus cases across the country has posed a major risk to the recovery of the economy.

“There’s a $1,200 check coming, that’s going to be part of the new package,” Xinhua news agency quoted Kudlow as saying said in a CNN interview on Sunday, noting that he would have preferred a payroll tax cut but it doesn’t work politically.

“It’s a very well rounded package,” Kudlow said. “It’s a very well targeted package.”

The adviser also said the administration plans to lengthen the federal eviction moratorium, which has protected millions of renters from getting evicted in the past four months but ended on Saturday.

He defended the administration’s plan to give Americans only 70 per cent of their previous wages, instead of the extra weekly $600 unemployment benefits, saying that the unemployment plan is “quite generous”.

Congress passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, in March to provide fiscal aid for households, businesses and healthcare providers, but the $600 unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of this month.

While Democrats want to extend the extra $600 unemployment benefits through January, the White House and Republicans want to reduce the figure, arguing that it has created a financial disincentive for people to return to work.

Kudlow’s remarks came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on July 23 that Senate Republicans and the Trump administration have reached an agreement in principle on the next COVID-19 relief package, which will focus on kids, jobs and healthcare.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday that Republicans have now finalized the relief package, which is worth about $1 trillion, and intend to introduce it Monday.

Due to the recent spike in the number of cases, over 20 US states have already paused or partially reversed reopening efforts, raising uncertainty over the prospect of economic recovery.

The US currently accounts for the world’s highest number of COVID-19 case and deaths at 4,233,764 and 146,934, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.