$600 Unemployment Checks May Return. Trump, GOP May Be Shifting Stance On It.


President Trump and Republicans appeared to back down from their firm opposition to extending $600 unemployment benefits on Friday but remained at an impasse with Democrats on a solution, even as the benefits officially expired.   

President Trump Meets With National Association Of Police Organizations

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 31: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the … [+] National Association of Police Organizations Leadership in the Cabinet Room of the White House July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

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The $600 expanded unemployment benefit — which has helped keep around 25 million Americans afloat during the pandemic — officially ran out at midnight on Friday. 

Congress adjourned for the weekend without a deal and the two parties remain far away from agreement.

After weeks of unwavering opposition to extending the $600 benefit in full, the White House appeared to back down on Friday, as Trump directed his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to be “aggressive and forward-leaning” in extending the benefits. 

Meadows, one of the negotiators for the White House on stimulus, pitched four separate options for extending the benefits that were all rejected by Democrats.

One proposal included a one-week extension of the $600 benefit, while another would extend the benefits at $400 per week. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected the plans, arguing a one week extension would have to be accompanied by a larger bill while refusing to back down from the $600 sum. 

What to watch for  

Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Meadows met at the Capitol on Saturday morning to discuss the $600 benefit and other elements of the next stimulus package. Schumer called the meeting “productive” and indicated they would meet again on Monday. Mnuchin told reporters they discussed unemployment benefits, extending the eviction moratorium, and other aspects of the next stimulus bill, but did not discuss details:

Meadows also reported progress, telling reporters: “We’re still a long ways apart and I don’t want to suggest that a deal is imminent because it is not. There are still substantial differences, but we did make good progress.

Crucial quote

Trump took to Twitter on Friday and expressed perhaps his most aggressive pitch to extend the benefits yet:

Surprising fact

A study from Yale University published last month found that expanded jobless benefits did not deter those workers from finding employment. Meanwhile, a separate study from the University of Chicago found that 68% of unemployed workers received more in benefits than they did working their previous jobs. 

Key background

Slashing unemployment benefits could have a devastating effect on the economy. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, told Forbes that if the benefits are decreased to $200-per-week through the end of the 2020 (a proposal that has been floated by GOP lawmakers) U.S. GDP would see a decline of 1.15%. If the payouts are eliminated completely, it would result in a GDP decline of 1.3%, Zandi says, and 1.1 million more in job losses.

Further reading

Trump, GOP soften on opposition to $600 jobless benefit (Associated Press)

As $600 Weekly Unemployment Benefits Expire, Here’s The Latest On When More Relief Could Come (Forbes)

Congress leaves town without a coronavirus stimulus deal, allowing $600 unemployment benefit to end (USA Today)

Slashing $600 Unemployment Benefits Would Be ‘Absolutely Devastating’ For U.S. Economy (Forbes)

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