Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Monday endorsed a policy prescription in which the U.S. government would give $1,000 to every American adult as part of an effort to help ease financial strain during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Every American adult should immediately receive $1,000 to help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term obligations and increase spending in the economy,” Romney said in a statement.
The Utah Republican also called on the Senate to pass a House bipartisan coronavirus relief package that was approved early Saturday morning following negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “The House coronavirus response package contains critical measures to help families in Utah and across the nation in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, and the Senate should act swiftly on this legislation,” he stated.
Romney’s backing of the measure comes after Harvard Professor Jason Furman, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) under President Barack Obama, proposed the idea in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Congress should pass a “one-time payment of $1,000 to every adult who is a U.S. citizen or a taxpaying U.S. resident, and $500 to every child who meets the same criteria,” wrote Furman. The law “should also specify that the payments would continue in 2021 and beyond if the unemployment rate rises to 5.5% and remains there or higher. Hopefully this will not happen, but if it does, the money will be needed,” he added.
Furman’s proposal echoes that of Breitbart News Economics editor John Carney, who wrote Saturday that the government “need[s] to put cash into the hands of the American people as quickly as possible.”
“I propose $1,000 of cash for every U.S. citizen. A family of four gets $4000 per month for the duration of the crisis. Bigger families get more. This boost of income will allow Americans to build emergency savings without having to drastically cut down on their spending,” Carney argued. “It will make it more likely that the economic emergency can be contained to frontline effects.”
The idea draws on universal basic income, championed by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, in which the government would give all citizens a guaranteed annual income from the government. In a Monday tweet, Yang urged Congress to adopt a form of UBI to help combat the pandemic: “What exactly is the political downside of putting money into people’s hands? Get your shit together Congress and do the right thing.”
What exactly is the political downside of putting money into people’s hands? Get your shit together Congress and do the right thing.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) March 16, 2020
Meanwhile, some Republican senators, chiefly Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), have said that the House’s relief package is doomed to fail in the upper chamber because it doesn’t go far enough.
“For one basic problem, it doesn’t go far enough, it doesn’t go fast enough,” Cotton told Fox & Friends, noting that small and medium-sized businesses aren’t sufficiently covered by the bill.
“I and a lot of the other senators, who I’ve spoken to over the weekend, are worried that we’re not doing enough to get cash in the hands of affected workers and families quickly so we’re going to be focused this week on how to do just that,” the Arkansas Republican continued. “We worry that the bill setting up a new and complicated system relying on businesses giving paid sick leave and then getting a refundable tax credit won’t move quickly enough and could put pressure on those businesses to lay workers off.”
“We don’t want to see layoffs, we want to see people who are at home, if they have any reason to be home, supported immediately. This is an emergency measure that only needs to last a few weeks if we all take the prudent steps necessary,” he added.