- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 9, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Sunday that there could be wiggle room for states unable to pay into the unemployment extension President Trump authorized with an executive order.

On Fox News, Mr. Mnuchin said states can take the $100 they need to contribute weekly to the new enhanced unemployment benefits out of aid already allocated to them, or President Trump could potentially waive it.

“We’ve been told by the states they can get this up and running immediately,” he said. “This has never been done in the history of time. We thought $400 was a fair compromise.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the president doesn’t know how many states will be able to pay into the new program.

“We will probably find that out today and tomorrow,” Mr. Kudlow said.

On Saturday afternoon, the president signed multiple executive orders that extended $400 weekly unemployment benefits and issued a payroll tax break for workers making under $100,000. The orders also extend deferrals for student loan payments and forgive interest, and renew a moratorium on housing evictions.

The burden on state and local governments is one of the bigger sticking points for Democrats criticizing the president’s executive order. Another is that they see the payroll tax break as a gut to Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Mr. Mnuchin countered that on Sunday, saying the entitlement programs will be refunded and the payments will be forgiven in legislation Mr. Trump plans to pursue after the election.

“He’s going to go to the American people and tell them that when he’s reelected he will push through legislation to forgive that. So in essence it will turn into a payroll tax cut,” he said. “There would be an automatic contribution from the general fund to those trust funds. The president in no way wants to harm those trust funds. So they’ll be reimbursed in the past.”

“We’ll deal with the deficit when we get the economy back to where it was before,” he added.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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