It looks like Americans will soon be getting some type of relief check amid the coronavirus crisis. "We are looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday morning. "Americans need cash now and the president wants to get cash now," he added. "And I mean now in the next two weeks." Details, updates from later Tuesday, and related developments:
- How much are we talking? The amount people might get is unclear, but Mnuchin discussed the details with lawmakers on Capitol Hill after making his initial announcement. On Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney backed the idea of giving American adults $1,000 each.
- And exactly when? After his meeting with Senate Republicans later Tuesday, Mnuchin apparently backed off on the aforementioned "two weeks" remark, noting that checks could go out by the end of April depending how quickly Congress moves.
- A big number: The money would be part of a huge stimulus package—perhaps more than $1 trillion in all, Politico reported before Mnuchin's announcement—still being hashed out between lawmakers and the White House. And Mnuchin indeed told reporters after his meeting, per USA Today and NBC News, "We have put a proposal on the table that would inject one trillion dollars into the economy. That is on top of the $300 billion from the IRS deferrals [more on that here]. Now let me say this is a combination of loans, this is a combination of direct checks to individuals, this is a combination of creating liquidity for small businesses. So we look forward to working with the Senate." Of the $1 trillion, $250 billion would reportedly be used for direct payments to Americans.
- Trump's stance: The president appears to have warmed to the idea, reports the Washington Post. Trump initially favored a payroll tax break, but he suggested Tuesday that it's not adequate given how fast things are moving. "Payroll tax is one way, but it does come over a period of months, many months," Trump said. "And we want to do something much faster than that. So I think we have ways of getting money out pretty quickly and very accurately." He said later Tuesday, "We’re going big. I think we want to get it done. And have a big infusion as opposed to going through little meetings every every couple of days. We don’t want to do it that way. We want to go big."
- The details: USAT notes there are multiple options for moving forward, including the Senate approving the already-passed House bill focusing on paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and other measures to help impacted workers, then starting to work on a bigger stimulus package (and making any amendments the Senate wants made to the House bill via that package); or, alternately, melding the House bill with other, bigger steps like checks to Americans.
- Word from the Senate majority leader: Mitch McConnell promised, "The Senate will not adjourn until we have passed significant and bold new steps above and beyond what the House has passed to help our strong nation and our strong underlying economy."
- Market impact: Stocks closed solidly higher after the aid package news broke.
- More good money news: As for that $300 billion in IRS deferrals, Mnuchin also announced Tuesday that many Americans will have 90 extra days to pay their taxes; more on that here.
- But: A source tells CNN that Mnuchin warned Republican senators during Tuesday's meeting that unemployment could hit 20% due to the pandemic.
- And then there are headlines like this: Slate says "You should be absolutely terrified about the economy right now," but adds one bright spot: "The feds might be spooked enough to actually help." The article cites not just Tuesday's stimulus news, but the Fed's massive interest rate cut.
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