President Donald Trump held a press briefing Wednesday on the nation’s response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Watch Trump’s remarks in the player above.
Larry Kudlow, a top economic adviser to President Donald Trump, defended the administration’s executive orders to provide economic relief in the wake of stalled negotiations in Congress, saying they will help the unemployed, while encouraging people to return to work as the economy recovers.
“I will just say that the executive orders and president have provided significant incentives to work and go back to go back to work and create jobs and also to help the 16 million unemployed who still have a lot of heartbreak,” Kudlow said.
“No question. We want to help them,” he said.
Trump announced an executive order Saturday that extends additional unemployment payments of $400 a week to help cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic. Congress had approved payments of $600 a week at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, but those benefits expired Aug. 1 and Congress has been unable to agree on an extension.
Under Trump’s announced plan, the $400 a week requires a state to commit to providing $100. However, many states are already facing budget crunches caused by the pandemic.
“What we did do is take some pressure off the states,” Kudlow said.
“They do not have to plus up 100 to get to 300,” he said. “It will help people enormously.”
Kudlow also defended the administration’s proposal to defer payroll taxes through the rest of the year, with possible forgiveness of the deferred tax later on.
“The payroll tax deferral is terrific,” he said.
The proposal has drawn criticism, however, because it doesn’t directly help the unemployed. In addition, it would reduce the amount taken out of workers’ paychecks to fund federal programs including Social Security and Medicare.
Finally, Kudlow described the economy as “doing great right now,” with a “self-sustaining recovery.”
Despite the rosy outlook, the Labor Department says the unemployment rate is above ten percent, and hiring has slowed after an initial burst of hiring in April and May.