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Thursday, 23 July 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Republicans want to replace $600-a-week unemployment boost by giving jobless 70% of their old wages in new coronavirus bailout plan

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that Republicans want to give jobless Americans unemployment 'based on approximately 70 per cent wage replacement' as part of the fourth economic stimulus bill responding to the coronavirus crisis. 
Mnuchin appeared Thursday morning on CNBC and then spoke to reporters at the White House. 
He and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are leading negotiations for the Trump administration on the new bill, with bargaining beginning in earnest this week with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday on CNBC that Republicans want to replace the $600-a-week unemployment benefit with a 'approximately 70 per cent wage replacement' plan
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday on CNBC that Republicans want to replace the $600-a-week unemployment benefit with a 'approximately 70 per cent wage replacement' plan 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (pictured) and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are leading the White House's negotiations team on the new coronavirus stimulus package. He photographed speaking to reporters Thursday morning at the White House
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (pictured) and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are leading the White House's negotiations team on the new coronavirus stimulus package. He photographed speaking to reporters Thursday morning at the White House 
Steven Mnuchin confirmed to reporters that the payroll tax, which President Trump (pictured) wanted, would not be in the new package, a blow for the White House
Steven Mnuchin confirmed to reporters that the payroll tax, which President Trump (pictured) wanted, would not be in the new package, a blow for the White House 
The CARES Act had afforded unemployed Americans a $600-a-week unemployment insurance boost, which is set to expire at the end of the month. 
That benefit looked to be on the chopping block due to Republican resistance. 
As of Wednesday afternoon, CNBC reported that Republicans were considering changing it back from $600 to $100-a-week.  
In the Oval Office Monday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had voiced concerns about giving Americans too much unemployment - essentially paying them more to not work than work.
'We don't think any federal money should be spent it gives you a disincentive to work,' he said in a meeting with President Donald Trump, Mnuchin, Meadows and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 
It would be unclear how structuring a 70 per cent wage replacement would work. 

CNBC pointed out that lawmakers chose the $600-a-week figure, in part, because state's systems to disperse unemployment funds are outmoded and couldn't handle a 100 per cent wage replacement scheme, which had been discussed. 
Democrats were already wary of the figure. 
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNBC after Mnuchin made his comments that 70 per cent wage replacement was not 'the policy we ought to pursue.' 
Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said 'if we're going to ratchen that down, it ought to be over time.' But he also added that, 'it's not a dealbreaker.'    
Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that the payroll tax cut, which Trump had peronally pitched, was not going to be in the new bill, a blow for the White House. 
Another round of direct payments to Americans, like the $1,200 checks given out by the federal government earlier in the coronavirus crisis, will likely be in the bill, with McConnell and the White House signaling support.  

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