National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow reiterated Sunday the $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit created to aid those who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic will end in late July.
“I mean, we’re paying people not to work. It’s better than their salaries would get,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“That might have worked for the first couple of months. It’ll end in late July,” he added, saying the extra benefit was necessary during the height of the coronavirus lockdowns.
Kudlow said that “almost all businesses” understand the $600 additional benefit is “a disincentive.” He said the Trump administration is instead “looking at a reform measure” that will provide an incentive for returning to work, but it will not be as substantial.
“It will not be as large, and it will create an incentive to work,” he said. “That goes along with the other incentives we’ve generated, the tax rebates and, most particularly … the Payroll Protection Program, which I think was a huge success.”
Kudlow was pressed by CNN host Jake Tapper on the idea that Americans don’t want to return to work. Tapper pointed out that some Americans’ jobs aren’t coming back — a point Kudlow called “fair.”
“I personally agree with you. I think people want to go back to work,” Kudlow responded. “I think they welcome the reopening of the economy, and I think they’re anxious to get out and about.”
“However, at the margin, incentives do matter,” he added. “We have heard from business after business, industry after industry, and there’s already some evidence that this effect is taking place.”
The House-passed Heroes Act would extend the $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit through the end of January 2021. The Senate has not passed similar legislation.