Mnuchin backs $1K per adult, $500 per child in payments

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he supports direct payments of $1,000 per adult and $500 per child to Americans within three weeks if Congress backs the plan.

“The president is determined that we are going to support” those affected, Mnuchin (pictured) said in a Fox Business interview Thursday morning.

Cash handouts to all American households are gaining support in Congress as the best way to shore up an economy brought to a near-standstill by the coronavirus response.

As Americans are halting much of their daily lives to avoid spreading the virus and markets continued to plunge, the White House is asking Congress for an additional $1.3 trillion, including $500 billion in direct payments to Americans, $50 billion in loans to the distressed airline sector, and $150 billion to “severely distressed sectors” of the economy from the virus outbreak.

“We’re really focused on providing liquidity to American businesses and American workers,” Mnuchin said. “This is an unprecedented situation where for good reason the government has instructed parts of the” country to shut down.

Mnuchin said the payments would go out within three weeks of Congress passing the legislation. A flat amount per person, rather than tailoring the payments by income, is easier for the Internal Revenue Service to process quickly. However, some former IRS and Treasury officials have expressed skepticism that the payments could take months, rather than weeks, to hit households.

A second round of payments would be sent if the national emergency persists, he said. Mnuchin has estimated that each round of the direct payments would cost about $250 billion.

Senate Republicans are working on a stimulus plan to be released as soon as Thursday that will also include a proposal for direct payments to households.

Laura Davison and Saleha Mohsin
Bloomberg News