President Donald Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday vowed an end to an extra $600 a week in unemployment payments for the jobless, calling it a “disincentive to work” — assuming there is work.
Kudlow’s dismissive attitude about the payments amid massive unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic was a dramatic contrast to his defense of the Payment Protection Plan for businesses, which can use the forgivable public loans to pay exorbitant executive salaries.
He insisted to Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the extra unemployment aid “might have worked for the first couple of months,” but “it’ll end in late July.”
Kudlow insisted that “almost all businesses ... understand” that the $600 additional benefit is “a disincentive” to work. “I mean we’re paying people” without jobs “not to work,” he added. “It’s better than their salaries would get.”
He said the Trump administration is considering a “reform measure” that might provide an incentive to return to work — but that it won’t be as much.
The extra aid is in addition to regular unemployment payments that can be as low as an average of $250 a week in some states.
Kudlow’s comment assumes there will be jobs for everyone now collecting on unemployment, even though many experts predict jobless numbers will remain in the double digits at least until year’s end.
Tapper said he has a “tough time really believing that people don’t want to go back to work.” He also pointed out that some workers’ jobs aren’t coming back, which Kudlow called a “fair” point.
“I personally agree with you; I think people want to go back to work,” Kudlow added, undercutting his own claim.
The mediocre aid to the average worker came up as Kudlow staunchly defended the Trump administration’s refusal to reveal the recipients of some $500 billion in PPP aid to business owners — even though Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised the massive taxpayer aid would be “transparent.”
PPP loans become grants if the money is spent on particular costs, such as rent, utilities and payroll — including salaries up to $100,000. Only 9% of Americans earn $100,000 a year or more, leaving the 91% of taxpayers who earn less to subsidize the top rate covered by public PPP funds.
The Heroes Act passed by the House would extend the $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit for workers through the end of January 2021. No similar legislation has been passed by the Senate.