After billions in stimulus funding was sent to Americans, some households may find themselves in the same situation as Fred Hall.
“It’s gone,” said Hall, who used the money to buy a couch he said he otherwise would not have purchased.
Now, another round of funding is on the table as the Trump Administration and lawmakers consider what next steps to take to aid the economy and individuals after the coronavirus pandemic closed up businesses and kept people home.
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“It’s something we’ll definitely consider,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said of stimulus payments in an interview with NBC10 on Wednesday.
Mnuchin said the focus of the next bill, which he referred to as CARES 4, would be “a much more targeted approach to the workers and businesses that clearly will have the most difficult time restarting and rehiring.”
But when it comes to stimulus checks, Mnuchin said the same broad approach would be taken in this round and that "the appeal of direct payments is it’s a very fair way of getting money to everybody in the economy."
The Democrat-controlled House already passed a $3 trillion bill that includes additional direct stimulus payments among other things. President Trump referred to that bill as “dead on arrival.”
Hall, who lives in Roxborough and didn’t lose a job during the pandemic, said while he’s OK financially, businesses need the boost from people having more money to spend.
“I think the businesses need us to have the cash to buy the things we normally wouldn’t buy so they can stay in business and get over the hump,” said Hall.
Through programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the government has also sent billions of taxpayer dollars to businesses in an effort to help them keep workers on payrolls and stay afloat during the pandemic. But so far, details about where that money has gone have not been released.
"I want to strike the right balance here on protecting what is clearly proprietary information of very small businesses, because this is set off of payroll, with also making sure we have proper transparency," Mnuchin said.
The application for the PPP program, however, spells out that borrower names are among the information that would be released under the Freedom of Information Act.
"We put that on the form to be careful in case we decided to release it," Mnuchin said.
Asked about whether he thought the government was legally required to do so, he responded: "No, I do not think we’re legally required at all."
Mnuchin said the way loans are calculated, releasing certain information for small businesses would disclose people’s income. The secretary said he is leaning toward disclosing information about larger businesses but not smaller ones, and hopes to have the issue resolved within the next week.
Earlier this week, Democratic members of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis sent letters to the Treasury Department, the Small Business Administration and banks saying, among other things, that “the Administration should release the names of all PPP borrowers - as the SBA routinely does for similar loan programs.”
Mnuchin said he plans to work with both the House and the Senate on the next CARES legislation. He listed one thing that will “definitely will be in” as liability protection for businesses, an issue that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has prioritized.
The secretary also addressed the additional $600 per week that unemployed workers have been getting, saying they would fix it. The additional money is due to expire next month.
"We’re going to make sure people don’t get more money to stay home than they would to work - that’s obviously a bad disincentive for the economy and not fair, so that issue we’ll fix," he said.