As part of a stimulus package, United States President Donald Trump will be sending as much as US$1,000 to individual Americans in an effort offset the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
At a White House press briefing on March 17, Trump warned that the impact of the coronavirus on the economy is challenging, but he is optimistic that the situation should rebound. “We’re going to win and I think we’re going to win faster than people think, I hope,” said Trump.
The initiative came in after a widespread closure of schools, shops and restaurants as curfew and other measures to slow down the national coronavirus transmission. Trump has urged Americans to stay home and avoid crowds for the next two weeks.
Need for cash identified
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the stimulus package, which is worth over US$1 trillion, needs to be sent out immediately as unemployment could reach 20%. “Americans need cash now. I mean now in the next two weeks,” said Mnuchin at the press conference.
Mnuchin also added that Americans can now defer income tax payments up to US$1 million dollars. Corporations can defer tax payments up to US$10 million for 90 days, free of interest and penalty charges.
An administration official said the packages could include:
- US$500 billion to US$550 billion in direct payments or tax relief
- US$200 billion to US$300 billion in small business assistance
- US$50 billion to US$100 billion in airline and industry relief
Trump had initially suggested that a payroll tax deduction could be made. However, this plan would only benefit those who are currently employed by a company and does not have any benefits for hourly or freelance workers. It is estimated that the US has more than 56.7 million freelance workers.
Trump also announced that the administration will deploy military-style hospitals across coronavirus hot zones. Mike Pence, who is head of the White House coronavirus task force, said the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) would swiftly deploy field hospitals to assist with the increase of patients.
Stocks surge after announcement
US stocks rose by 6% after Trump’s announcement on the government economic stimulus package.
Mnuchin also said the US stock markets should remain open so that Americans have access to their funds.
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