The White House on Tuesday punted again on a promised package to goose the economy amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
At a press conference Monday, President Donald Trump promised a proposal by Tuesday. But on Tuesday — after markets spiked at Trump’s proposal and the President met with congressional Republicans — there was still little detail to show for the White House’s promises.
“We are working out details right now, so I don’t want to quote any numbers ahead of time,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said at a press conference Tuesday. “You know, you make a proposal, we are checking with the leaders of both parties in both houses to see what is doable and where the tough nuts are going to be.”
“I don’t want to get into any detail,” he continued. “I think the outline of the thing is very important.”
According to The Washington Post, Trump pitched Republican legislators Tuesday on a payroll tax holiday through the end of the year, among other things — a point that Kudlow reiterated at the press conference Tuesday. But there’s no indication the measure has the support in needs to pass Congress.
Separately, Kudlow suggested that Trump could use “administrative and executive authority to help unpaid sick leave people,” a reference to workers who don’t have the option of taking paid time off to stay at home while sick. Such financial pressure to work while ill could put more people at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Asked how the White House proposed to cover the potentially 13-figure hole the payroll tax cut would leave, Kudlow didn’t offer any detail Tuesday.
“Let us put the proposal out in concrete details and flesh that out and we’ll have much better answers,” Kudlow said. “Right now, I want to stay in my lane and I think the health story, the coronavirus story, is very, very important here.”
“We will do the best we can to give you specific plans and details once we flesh them out.”
That marked quite a different tone than Trump set Monday night.
“I will be here tomorrow afternoon to let you know about some of the economic steps we’re taking, which will be major,” he said.
CNBC quoted one unnamed administration official who said of Trump’s announcement: “That was news to everyone on the inside.”