Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said local and state governments should not close down businesses and schools if another CCP virus outbreak occurs in the near future.
“We can’t shut down the economy again. I think we’ve learned that if you shut down the economy, you’re going to create more damage,” Mnuchin said in an interview on Thursday.
It comes as several states, including Texas and California, reported a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days. Over the past several weeks, governors have allowed more and more businesses to reopen after remaining shuttered to stop the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. The United States has reported more than 2 million cases of the virus.
“And not just economic damage, but there are other areas and we’ve talked about this: medical problems and everything else that get put on hold,” Mnuchin told CNBC. “I think it was very prudent what the president did, but I think we’ve learned a lot.”
Mnuchin said he is prepared to head back to Congress to push for additional funding to stimulate the economy after millions upon millions of people lost work due to the outbreak.
“We have the Fed program, we have Main Street [lending program], which is going to be now up and running, and we’re prepared to go back to Congress for more money to support the American worker,” he said. “So we’re going to get everybody back to work. That’s my No. 1 job working with the president and we’re going to do that.”
In March, the bipartisan CARES Act was passed and signed into law, sending out more than 100 million payments to Americans, expanded unemployment insurance, provided relief to local governments, and other measures.
Mnuchin told a Senate panel this week that more direct payments are likely going to be needed.
“I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy,” Mnuchin said. “But I think this is all going to be about getting people back to work, and we look forward to working with the entire Senate on this.”
But he stipulated that the bolstered unemployment insurance, which proves $600 per month, will most likely be done away with. He said, “We’re going to need to fix unemployment.”
A bill is needed to “encourage businesses to rehire people, especially in areas that have been most impacted—whether it’s the travel, leisure, restaurants,” he said. “You can’t get hotel capacity back up to speed without hiring people first.”