Mar 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

Architect of Trump's coronavirus stimulus plan says it's too little, too late

Jason Furman
Former Council of Economic Advisers chair Jason Furman, December 2017. Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Trump administration's proposal to send Americans $1,000 checks is now too little, too late, the plan's architect tells Axios.

What happened: Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took two weeks to publicly support the proposal put forth in a March 5 Wall Street Journal editorial by Jason Furman, who served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.

  • "In the two weeks since my op-ed came out the economic situation has deteriorated markedly. It is now clear that a much larger package is needed," Furman tells Axios in an email.
  • Furman's proposal to send $1,000 to every tax-paying American, along with $500 for their dependents, was embraced by economists across the political spectrum in the interim, including George W. Bush's CEA chair Gregory Mankiw and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), before Trump ultimately backed it.

Why it matters: The size and speed at which a fiscal stimulus package gets passed will have a direct impact on how successful it is in helping lift the economy from what is shaping up to be a deep and painful recession this year.

Between the lines: "President Trump’s team initially rejected the idea but eventually came around to it, which has been critical," Furman says.

  • "But they have still not come around to the more comprehensive approach that I was advocating and is needed."

What's next: There is growing agreement that an unprecedented fiscal package will be necessary to save the economy from ruin, much larger than the proposals currently being considered by the administration.

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called on Congress to pass a "bridge loan" program to give federally guaranteed loans to companies with big losses from the pandemic — an idea from the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin, who estimates it would cost around $10 trillion.
  • The Chamber's full proposal was inspired by ideas by Sorkin, Kevin Warsh and Senate Small Business Committee chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
  • Furman also tells Axios he likes Sorkin's proposal.
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