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White House opposes extending $600 a week benefit for jobless workers beyond July

Francesca Chambers and David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The White House does not support extending increased federal unemployment assistance to workers who lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, economic advisers to President Donald Trump say they prefer to help closed businesses reopen.

Another 2.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits this week, putting the total number of new jobless claims since early March above 38 million. Without additional action by Congress, those workers will no longer receive an extra $600 weekly benefit after July.

That benefit, which began in late March and expires at the end of July, is in addition to the regular weekly unemployment benefits received by Americans who lost their jobs.

House Democrats voted last week to renew the emergency benefits through January, but Trump and his economic advisers are convinced that June will be a turning point for the sluggish economy.

Stephen Moore, a member of Trump's economic task force, called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's push to extend the benefits "crazy" and the "single most important" economic proposal to stop.

"I know that almost everyone on the task force believes that paying people more money for not working is a really bad idea," Moore told McClatchy on Thursday.

 

Conservative leaders in close contact with the White House who share that opinion say it was a mistake to provide such robust unemployment benefits in the first place.

And economic advisers to the president are insistent that the most effective tactic for fighting persistently high unemployment is to get people back to work as soon as possible.

"We cannot possibly have a recovery, if we're paying people not to work," Moore said. "Even people in the White House realize what a mistake we made," he said, referring to agreeing to let the extra benefit last so long into the summer.

Trump's advisers have declared a "pause" in negotiations on another large coronavirus aid package, while they determine whether the most recent round of funding was enough to sustain beleaguered businesses and workers through the economic slump.

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