While Congress debates whether, how,or how much to further support workers and the pandemic-devastated Main Street economy, economists warn that time is running out.
“The evidence we have from the Great Recession is that stimulus money stopped too short, and that actually ended up elongating the recession,” said Jeff Strohl, director of research at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
A Democratic proposal would extend the expanded unemployment benefits that are giving 30 million jobless Americans up to an additional $600 a week through the end of the year. The program, part of the $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package passed in March, is scheduled to expire at the end of July. President Donald Trump and some Republican lawmakers point to the surprising growth of 2.5 million jobs in May as reason to allow the program to lapse.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow labeled the $600 weekly payments a “disincentive,” arguing that low-paid workers would opt to stay home and earn more than they would if they re-entered the workforce. The White House and some congressional Republicans have proposed offering some form of “back to work” bonus.
“The president is looking at a reform measure that would still provide some kind of bonus for returning to work, but it will not be as large, and it will create an incentive to work,” Kudlow told CNN on Sunday without offering further details.