The White House is seeking a stimulus package worth as much as 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars in spending, including direct payments to Americans, to cushion the U.S. economy from coronavirus fallout, according to local media.
File photo: AFP
The Trump administration had been discussing a total aid package of 850 billion dollars, but discussions later included spending as much as 1.2 trillion dollars, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pitched 250 billion dollars in checks to be sent at the end of April with a second set of checks totaling 500 billion dollars four weeks later if there is still a national emergency, according to Bloomberg.
The development came after the Trump administration on Tuesday expressed its intent to offer cash payments for working Americans as part of an economic stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
"We're looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," Mnuchin said at a White House press briefing. "And I mean now, in the next two weeks."
When asked how much the cash payments could be, Mnuchin told reporters that he is meeting with lawmakers on the issue, adding that it "maybe a little bit bigger than in the past."
The stimulus plan also came as the U.S. Federal Reserve on Sunday cut its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to near zero and pledged to increase its bond holdings by at least 700 billion dollars amid mounting fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
Economists have argued that compared with monetary policy, fiscal policy will play a more important role to cushion the economy from coronavirus fallout.
"The leading role falls to the fiscal authorities to craft a response to the humanitarian crisis and the economic cost," Tim Duy, professor of the University of Oregon and a long-time Fed watcher, wrote recently in a blog post. "So far, the response has been woefully lacking."
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Sunday also urged fiscal authorities to take actions to prop up the economy.
"Fiscal policy is a way to direct relief to particular populations and groups," said the Fed chief. "We do think fiscal response is critical, and we're happy to see that those measures are being considered, and we hope that they are effective."