With the $600 weekly federal unemployment bonus set to run out at the end of the week, people have been anxiously awaiting the Republican proposal for the next round of relief spending. The Democrats in the House passed a $3.5 trillion package that went nowhere in the Senate, but everyone agreed that something must be done.
Now we have a sense of what that “something” will be, more free cash for millions of Americans and reduced unemployment checks.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration will back continued unemployment bonus checks through the end of the year, but at a lower level, and that Americans can expect another round of $1,200 checks that should be their bank accounts in August.
Administration officials are working with Senate leaders to get the details down before they announce it, which can come as soon as Monday.
The $600 checks were meant to bring the unemployed American earning the average wage and with the average state unemployment benefit up to 100% of the average wage. In practice, the bonus checks boosted the average recipient’s income by more than 30% above what they made at work. The next round of bonus checks are intended to replace 70% of an average worker’s income.
“We want to make sure that there’s a technical correction, so that people don’t get paid more money to stay home than to work.”
There was no word yet on the other details, like support for cities and states, a Democratic priority, and immunity for COVID-19 infections for businesses and other establishments, which is a Republican priority.
And, of course, there was no discussion of how to pay for any of it. If the deficit doesn’t matter anymore, then perhaps we should require the government to give everyone $1 million instead of $1,200.