Many Americans hope to get their hands on a second stimulus check, but Kevin O'Leary of “Shark Tank” doesn’t think it’s necessary.
The shark known for striking up some aggressive deals and strong investments told CNBC Make It that he believes unemployment benefits should be the focal point of the upcoming deal, which is currently at a standstill until after November 3.
“I would like to see a $400 a week support for the next 14 months [for] anybody that’s unemployed,” O'Leary said. “If you’re unemployed because of the pandemic, we’ll support you with a few hundred dollars a week until you can find a job,” he added.
The $400 would replace the previous $600 weekly boost provided under the CARES Act that expired in July.
“I would rather people have an incentive to work if they can find it, but I don’t want them to be in a great, painful space,” he explained.
Critics of the additional federal jobless benefits expressed concern that the unemployment allowance made people too comfortable and prevented them from looking for jobs. However, a July report from Yale economists debunked those misconceptions, stating that those with higher unemployment benefits found more opportunities than those without.
Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst for social insurance at the National Employment Law Project, also backed the $400 unemployment booster.
“The $400 [unemployment boost] is less than $600, but if you could get a commitment to keep it in place for 14 months, that gives people [a] real ability to plan,” Evermore said. “Given that the average unemployment benefit last year was around $370, I think [$400] would be much better stimulus than a $1,200 check or money that goes to everyone.”
Despite his support for the unemployment benefits, "Mr. Wonderful" doesn’t believe in giving another round of stimulus checks to help the economic recovery.
“We don’t need the $1,200 check to everybody anymore because a lot of those people have now found work again,” he explained.
While first-time unemployment benefit claims hit their lowest levels since the onset of the pandemic in March, the number is still high with 1 million Americans continuing to file for benefits.
O’Leary’s approach differs vastly from co-star Mark Cuban’s. In September, the billionaire said that households, regardless of income, should get $1,000 stimulus checks every two weeks for the following two months to boost the economy.
He explained that the reality is that “two economies” currently exist: those who can pay their bills and those who can’t. His vision hinges on the “use it or lose it” approach that would require families to spend the money within 10 days in order to stimulate the economy.
“Once businesses start having demand, even if they’re closed and working online, then there is a reason for them to be able to bring back employees and retain those employees if demand is sustained,” he suggested.
This is the second time he’s proposed the idea amidst the pandemic.