October 29, 2020

Mnuchin and Powell back jobless aid and small business loans | National News

The original relief package provided a $600-a-week federal unemployment benefit, on top of whatever jobless aid a state provides. But the $600 benefit has expired. Many Republicans have argued that amount was so large as to dissuade some unemployed people from looking for a job.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order to provide $300 in weekly benefits, with states supplying $100. But that program has not been widely supported by states and has now expired.

Powell and Mnuchin testified this week before committees in both the House and Senate that are providing oversight of programs created to deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Mnuchin said that in addition to the $130 billion that has not yet been spent from the Paycheck Protection Program, he would support reallocating $200 billion that Congress gave to Treasury to serve as a backstop for potential loan losses in various emergency programs being run by the Fed.

Many of those Fed programs are operating far below the levels that had been expected, so Treasury has not had to use the money provided to cover losses.

Powell repeated his view that providing more support was essential to keep the economy on a sustained upturn. He said that a big risk is that many unemployed people will have a hard time finding new jobs because they work in areas of the economy where job losses have been the largest, such as restaurants and bars.

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