- Jason Furman, a top economist during the Obama administration, had a lot of criticism for how Republicans handled stimulus negotiations.
- “I think it’s baffling that the White House didn’t have a plan,” he told Business Insider in an exclusive interview.
- Stimulus negotiations between Republicans and Democrats collapsed after two weeks of largely fruitless talks earlier this month.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A former top economist to President Barack Obama assailed Republicans and the Trump administration for lacking a cohesive strategy on stimulus negotiations that fell apart earlier this month.
In an exclusive interview with Business Insider, Jason Furman, Obama’s former head of the Council of Economic Advisors, was extremely critical of how Republicans handled efforts to rescue the coronavirus-battered economy.
“I think it’s baffling that the White House didn’t have a plan,” Furman said. “I think it’s baffling that the Senate Republicans didn’t come up with a plan until the very last week. I think it’s baffling that the president and Senate Republicans aren’t on the same side.”
Stimulus negotiations between Republicans and Democrats collapsed after two weeks of largely fruitless talks. Senate Republicans unveiled their plan days before the $600 federal supplement to state unemployment insurance expired for 28 million Americans on jobless benefits.
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The White House had also pressed to include a payroll tax cut in the relief package, prompting objections from many Senate Republicans and opposition from Democrats. It was ultimately tossed out of the $1 trillion GOP stimulus plan in favor of direct payments.
The GOP and Democrats fiercely disagree on the amount of government spending necessary to pull the nation out of a recession, particularly on boosted unemployment insurance and aid to states.
Democrats wanted to maintain the $600 benefits, but Republicans wanted to cut it to a lower amount. The Democratic spending package was also three times larger than the GOP one, with nearly $1 trillion for states grappling with plummeting tax revenues.
President Donald Trump then signed several executive orders sidestepping Congress, aiming to boost state unemployment payouts and enact a payroll-tax holiday. The unemployment order initially set off an uproar among cash-strapped states unable to afford undertaking the program, which many state officials say needs to be designed from the ground up.
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But at least seven states have been approved so far. However, an additional $300 in weekly benefits won’t arrive for the unemployed until the end of August at the earliest, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It’d be a full month after the $600 federal benefits expired. The payouts may also last only three weeks in some states.
Republicans are floating a slimmed-down stimulus bill to break through the partisan logjam on Capitol Hill, The New York Times reported. It would restore federal unemployment payments at $200-per-week and include liability protections for businesses championed by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.