Sen. Mitt Romney’s call to give $1,000 to adults in the U.S. as a way to boost the economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak carries a pretty hefty price tag - approximately $100 billion per month.
Romney suggests those payments should only go to individuals making under $80,000 per year, but he says he’s not sure how long those payments will be necessary.
“It could be easily provided by the IRS because they know where to get checks to people,” said Romney.
Romney thought that the financial assistance from the government could also go to low-income Americans who don’t pay any income taxes at all, and Americans who don’t need the money could give it to charitable organizations.
The House passed a sweeping package last week to respond to the coronavirus outbreak that expanded access to free testing for the virus and approximately $1 billion in food assistance programs. It also extended sick leave benefits to Americans who would be vulnerable to economic disruptions from the pandemic.
Romney said the House package, which is still awaiting action in the Senate, has strong support in the Senate after a few changes. However, Romney says he and his Senate colleagues are focusing on efforts to help American families and small businesses with financial aid.
“I can’t predict what my colleagues are going to want to do,” said Romney gauging how his proposal might be accepted by Congress. “My impression is that this is a unique and singular event in our nation’s history and we need to act to help people who are in distress given this terrible disease and that we will be prepared to act in a way which is not bound by financial concerns.”
“I’m one of those that wishes we would have been balancing the budget over the last several years instead of adding to our debt, Romney continued. “When there’s something that’s extraordinary which affects the lives of our citizens and could potentially cause our enterprises to go out of business and put people out of work, then you have to take whatever action is necessary.”
Romney said the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been “evolving,” but it is improving.
“I think the political side of the administration was initially not as concerned as they had become. I think the president on Wednesday night adopted a posture which was more consistent with what we’ve been hearing from some of the medical professionals. I think early on there was some gap that has fortunately been closed,” said Romney.
Romney said he was unsure how long the COVID-19 outbreak will disrupt normal life in America. On Sunday the Centers for Disease Control said Americans would be wise to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. On Monday President Donald Trump suggested Americans avoid gatherings of more than 10 people with disruptions from the virus possibly lasting until July or August.