Larry Kudlow, the head of the National Economic Council, vowed that the Trump administration would oppose any extension of the $600 federal weekly unemployment benefits implemented amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Kudlow told CNN that the payments were a “disincentive.”
"I mean, we're paying people not to work. It's better than their salaries would get," he said. "That might have worked for the first couple of months. It'll end in late July."
CNN host Jake Tapper noted that many Americans want to return to work but the jobs have not returned.
"I think that's a fair point. I personally agree with you. I think people want to go back to work. I think they welcome the reopening of the economy. I think they're anxious to get out and about," Kudlow replied. "However, at the margin, incentives do matter. We have heard from business after business, industry after industry, and there's already some evidence that this effect is taking place."
Mnuchin undercuts claim:
Kudlow’s comments came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shot down fellow Republicans who argued that the payments were a disincentive.
"I think we've seen from the recent numbers that didn't have a big impact because people want their jobs, but we will have a significant amount of unemployment, and we're going to need to look at doing something there," Mnuchin told a Senate committee last week.
Admin plans incentive payments:
Kudlow told CNN that the administration wants to create some form of incentive for people who return to work.
"It will not be as large, and it will create an incentive to work," he said. "That goes along with the other incentives we've generated, the tax rebates and, most particularly ... the Payroll Protection Program, which I think was a huge success."
Congressional Republicans have floated similar plans.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman proposed a $450 weekly payment to workers that come back.
Texas Rep. Kevin Brady offered a $1,200 one-time payment to workers that return.
"My view is you don't take your foot off the gas right now," argued Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden. "If millions of Americans lose their supercharged benefits and are unable to pay their bills, the economy is not going to be in a position to rebound."