WASHINGTON — White House and administration officials will present President Donald Trump with a set of economic stimulus options as early as Monday afternoon, including a plan to offer paid sick leave to those affected by the coronavirus and assistance for the hardest hit industries.
Despite Trump's continued downplaying of the effects of the virus — tweeting that a steep drop in oil prices is good for consumers, and blaming the news media for the plunging stocks — advisers are preparing to brief the president when he returns to the White House from a Florida fundraiser on a menu of options to shore up the economy, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The options to combat the financial impacts of the coronavirus broadly fall into two categories: those that would require congressional approval and those that can be accomplished by presidential or administrative authority, according to those people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
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But there is still internal discussion on the best way forward and a consensus has not emerged, they said.
“All this is discouraging. It’s a tough one, and we’re going to work our way through it,” a senior administration official said.
Trump's economic team worked over the weekend on a plan while the president was at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida where he raised $10 million in fundraisers. On Monday, he traveled to a fundraiser near Orlando where he was expected to raise an additional $4 million.
Both the president and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as Treasury and White House officials, have been consulting with industry groups on the kind of immediate relief that they might require. The White House has invited Wall Street executives to come to the White House on Wednesday to discuss the response.
Paid sick leave is at the top of the list of tools the White House is considering and would likely require congressional approval. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have said they would support providing paid sick leave to workers affected by quarantines and school closings.
Other measures, including helping companies service debt and waiving some regulations, could potentially be undertaken by the administration without congressional intervention.
One option not high on the list is a tax cut similar to the one offered by President George W. Bush, in which Americans were sent a check in the mail to help boost consumer spending. Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday that this type of stimulus is not effective.
Despite a crash in oil prices following a breakdown of talks between OPEC and Russia, the White House wasn’t planning to propose actions to aid the oil industry as of Monday morning.
As stocks were on pace for their worst day since December 2008, with trading halted for 15 minutes after a dramatic market fall, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar sought to reassure the public that the economy was still strong.
“The market obviously has been very active today, President Trump has delivered historically strong economy fundamentals,” Azar said. He said the administration has the “tools to keep the economy going strong.”