Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday the Trump administration will "seriously look" at sending another round of direct cash payments to some Americans in the fourth coronavirus relief package.
"I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy," Mnuchin said while testifying before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "But I think this is all going to be about getting people back to work, and we look forward to working with the entire Senate on this one."
At the end of March, Congress passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, approving one-time payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples. There's also an extra $500 payment for each dependent child under the age of 17. The payments were tapered for individuals who earned more than $75,000 and cut-off completely for those earning more than $99,000.
The cash was intended to blunt the financial pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which brought the economy grinding to a halt in mid-March. In the span of 11 weeks, more than 43 million Americans filed for unemployment, the Labor Department said last week.
Mnuchin's comments come on the heels of the surprisingly strong May jobs report.
Consensus estimates predicted the economy lost somewhere around 9 million jobs in May, pushing unemployment to 20 percent -- the highest since the Great Depression. Instead, the Labor Department said employers actually added 2.5 million jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent. Still, that remains well above the peak seen during the 2008 financial crisis.
"I do think the economy is going to recover strongly, but there is still significant damage in parts of the economy," Mnuchin said. "And we’re going to consider using all of our fiscal tools, working with Congress to make sure we restore this economy back to where it was and where it should be."
Democrats and Republicans have maintained that another round of aid is needed to incentivize economic growth, although they disagree on specific measures.
Some options currently under consideration at the White House include a payroll tax cut, liability protections for businesses reopening during the outbreak, tax deductions or write-offs for individuals who take a vacation during a defined period of time, and a back-to-work bonus for unemployed Americans returning to their jobs.
"We need to move from rescue assistance to more long-term economic growth incentives," Larry Kudlow, another senior White House economic adviser, told FOX Business on Friday.