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Mnuchin on $600 unemployment benefit: We can't be 'paying people more to stay home'

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Sweeping financial crimes bill to hitch a ride on defense measure On The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K MORE on Sunday threw cold water on the prospect of extending $600-per-week unemployment benefits for Americans for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with ABC's "This Week," Mnuchin suggested that the payments, which expired last week, led to some out-of-work Americans being "overpaid" and indicated that he believed they were slowing the return of workers to the labor market.

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"Unemployment is supposed to be wage replacement, so it should be tied to some percentage of wages," he said. "The fact that we had a flat number was only an issue of an emergency where we had 30-year-old computer systems."

"I think on the concept we absolutely agree on enhanced unemployment," Mnuchin continued. "We want to fix the issue where in some cases people are overpaid, and we want to make sure there's the right incentives [to get back to work]."

"In certain cases where we're paying people more to stay home than to work, that's created issues in the entire economy," he added. 

Democrats rejected a short-term stimulus deal from Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Alyssa Farah resigns as White House communications director Trump hits Barr over voter fraud remarks: 'He hasn't looked' MORE last Thursday. The exact provisions of that package were not made public but included a temporary extension of unemployment benefits, according to Meadows.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE and other white House officials have urged Democrats to agree to a short-term stimulus deal while Senate Republicans debate over the specifics of a longer-term package. Federal unemployment insurance payments totaling $600 per week expired on Friday, with no extension for the benefits in sight as millions of Americans faced rent payments on Aug. 1.