White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told CNN Sunday morning that President Trump is looking to do more to support those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but the requests from some cities and states are “kind of absurd.” “A lot of the requests for state and local bailouts that you’re seeing out there up on the Hill are radically, radically more money than the expected shortfall for the year… The requests are kind of absurd.”
BASH: Vice President Mike Pence says that negotiations for another stimulus bill are actively under way, and Americans have a lot of questions about what relief may be on the way. In the interest of time, I want to tick through some of the proposals. And if you could just answer with a simple yes or no, it would be great. First, on extending the extra $600 per week in unemployment insurance beyond July, yes or no? HASSETT: So, just to be clear, the president is going through all the options, and he’s deciding what he wants to do. And that’s a work in progress. And so yes-or-no, Kevin, answers right now aren’t necessarily reflective of what’s going on at the White House. BASH: OK. HASSETT: But I think that we have to look at U.I. I think that a lot of Republicans are concerned that the benefit makes it so that people get more for not working than for working. And so we look forward to working with people on potentially reforming that. BASH: What about increasing money for food stamps? HASSETT: That — that’s something that I have seen on the list, but I have not discussed with the president. BASH: OK. What about direct payments to Americans? HASSETT: That was something that was an enormously successful part of the first three phases. We mailed, like, $1,200 checks to 140 million people. And I think, depending on the state of the economy, it’s something that I guess we would consider. But, right now, it looks like the economy’s picking up at a very rapid rate, in which case we could potentially move on to other things that the president has mentioned, like the payroll tax cut and potentially even a capital gains holiday. BASH: OK. OK. So, lastly, should there be money for state and local governments in this bill? HASSETT: There’s already a lot of money for state and local governments. And so what we need to do — and it’s what we’re doing right now — is run a big data operation, look at how they’re spending the money that they have already gotten, project what the shortfall will be, and then talk about it with Democrats and Republicans. And that’s where we are right now. And I think that a lot of the state — requests for state and local bailouts that you’re seeing out there up on the Hill are, like, radically, radically more money than the expected shortfall for the year. And so I think that we’re analyzing the numbers right now. And the requests are kind of absurd. And I think that the numbers will help make them more realistic as we move into a negotiation. BASH: So, you’re saying it — is it likely or unlikely that state and local governments will see more money from the federal government? HASSETT: I think it’s going to be part of the negotiation. I don’t — you know, I don’t know, though, that there’s ever going to be any analysis that supports the massive requests that have come out of the House. Those numbers are just many, many times the expected shortfall this year, given the CBO forecast or any reasonable forecast for the year.