- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 24, 2020

White House senior adviser Kevin Hassett on Sunday said the Trump administration is eyeing another round of direct payments to Americans in the next coronavirus-related legislative package, though he said the economy is getting to the point where they might be able to move on to other things.

He called the stimulus checks of up to $1,200 for millions of Americans an “enormously successful part” of federal legislation that Congress passed in recent weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think depending on the state of the economy it’s something that I guess we’d consider,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“But right now it looks like the economy’s picking up at a very rapid rate, in which case we could potentially move on to other things that the president has mentioned like the payroll tax cut and potentially even [a] capital gains holiday,” Mr. Hassett said.

Congress is eyeing tweaks to a popular small business lending program for the next round of coronavirus legislation.

Mr. Hassett described negotiations on broader items as a “work in progress.”

SEE ALSO: Kevin Hassett: Unemployment rate could be ‘north of 20%’ in May

Asked about more money for states and localities, which has been a key Democratic demand, Mr. Hassett said there’s already been significant money allocated for that purpose.

“I think that a lot of the requests for state and local bailouts that you’re seeing out there up on the Hill are radically, radically more money than the expected shortfall for the year,” he said. “We’re analyzing the numbers right now and the requests are kind of absurd.”

He said a lot of Republicans are also concerned that the plussed-up unemployment benefits in the $2.2 trillion package that passed in March have made it more lucrative for many Americans to simply take the benefits rather than work.

“We look forward to working with people on potential reforming that,” he said.

The Democrat-led House recently passed a more than $3 trillion bill that included another round of direct payments to millions of Americans, close to $1 trillion in additional money for states and localities, and an extension of the boosted federal unemployment benefits through January.

The White House and Senate Republicans have said the package isn’t going anywhere and that it includes extraneous items tied to immigration, elections, and marijuana.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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