Today, the President toured the Owens & Minor Inc distribution center in Pennsylvania. According to White House officials, this center has produced millions of N95 masks, surgical gowns and gloves. All of these have been sent to hospitals and surgery centers throughout the United States. During his visit, Trump didn’t wear a mask, even though company officials did. This is very similar to what happened when President Trump visited a mask production facility in Arizona last week.
As he continues to push for the country to reopen in order to stem the economic impact of the virus, President Trump has said that he’s open to negotiations on another stimulus bill to help Americans who are suffering. However, he’s not for the plan put forth by House Democrats on Tuesday per White House spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany. In an interview, Ms. McEnany said that the President “was taking his time” to see what further action is needed, if any, from the federal government. She also mentioned that Trump would like to see a payroll tax cut as part of any future stimulus plans, but it wasn’t a requirement.
These comments come as federal lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree that the federal government should cover workers’ salaries through guaranteed income programs. House Representative Pramila Jayapal who is a Democrat from Washington state and a progressive stated, “people and families in every part of the country are facing this unprecedented crisis, and they are looking for relief. They are looking for certainty, and they are looking for a policy response that matches the scale of the crisis.” She isn’t the only member of Congress to come to the conclusion that this type of program needs to be part of the federal relief effort. Senator Josh Hawley a Republican from Missouri and a conservative is also promoting the need for this type of support.
As part of the next stimulus package, Ms. Jayapal had suggested including a paycheck guarantee program would cover the salaries and benefits of workers making up to $90,000 for as long as six months. It would also dispense grants to business in order to cover operating costs. These measures would encourage businesses to rehire furloughed and laid-off employees. Over a six-month period, the program would cost $654 billion, but benefit over 36 million workers. This is different from the proposed second round of $1,200 checks that are currently included in the second stimulus plan. Ms. Jayapal and her supporters assert that this isn’t enough and their plan would cost less than the $669 billion that has already been assigned as grants to businesses.
The idea of governments temporarily helping suffering workers is gaining moment around the globe. Back in March, the British government declared that they would pay up to 80% of wages for furloughed workers. The Spanish government has gone so far as to put out a plan that will permanently provide cash payments to low-income citizens. Mr. Hawley has presented a similar proposal to the British government’s plan. Under his plan, the federal government would cover 80% of employers’ payroll costs up to the median wage of about $49,000 a year. That proposal is starting to garner support from other Republicans within the Senate. A different bill that Mr. Hawley announced in March would provide families and single parents making less than $100,000 with a monthly check for the length of the crisis. However, this bill received much opposition with some Republicans saying the idea is radical and socialistic.