Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday the federal government is looking to “immediately” send cash payments to most Americans to help address the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.
During a news briefing from the White House, President Donald Trump said his administration is working with Congress to pass a “big, bold package.”
“We could keep going back [to Congress] every day or every week,” the president explained, but what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other lawmakers told him is it would be better to “go big.”
Mnuchin described the stimulus plan that the administration is currently working on as “very significant.”
“You can think of this as something like business interruption payments for the American workers,” the treasury secretary said.
“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said. “Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now in the next two weeks.”
The Trump official did not specify how much the payments would be, but said the administration is looking to do more than the figure that has been talked about in the media, which has widely been reported to be $1,000.
Asked if there will be income restrictions regarding who gets the checks, Mnuchin responded, “I think it’s clear, we don’t need to send people who make a million dollars a year checks.”
But overall, the concept of sending Americans an immediate cash payment is “one of the ideas that we like,” Mnuchin said, though it’s possible that a payroll tax holiday may follow in the future.
“I think we’re going to do something that gets money to them as quickly as possible,” Trump said.
“That may not be an accurate way of doing it because obviously some people shouldn’t be getting checks for a thousand dollars,” he conceded. “We’ll have a pretty good idea by the end of the day what we’re going to be doing.”
Mnuchin also announced other measures, including direct financial aid to the nation’s airlines.
“This is worse than 9/11 … for the airline industry,” Mnuchin said. “They are almost ground to a halt.”
“The airline industry will be in good shape,” Trump interjected.
The administration is also planning to allow Americans to defer tax payments with no interest or penalties for 90 days.
Mnuchin said Americans should file by the April 15 deadline, but those individuals owing up to $1 million, and corporations up to $10 million, can delay their payments for the three-month period.
The move will allow more cash to stay in the economy and delay the expense of paying taxes on businesses.
Trump further stated there are no plans to shut down the financial markets in New York as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, so people will continue to be able to buy and sell stocks, as well as access their 401(k) retirement accounts.
Trump believes the economy will “pop” when the coronavirus outbreaks ends.
“One day we’ll be standing possibly up here, we’ll say, ‘Well, we won,'” the president said. “As sure as you’re sitting there, we’re going to say that. … I think we’re going to win faster than people think, I hope.”
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