Treasury Secretary Warns of ‘Permanent Economic Damage’ if US Doesn’t Reopen

May 10, 2020 Updated: May 10, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on May 10 that reopening the economy must be done in a strategic way, but he stressed that “permanent economic damage” might be done if lockdown measures aren’t lifted.

“I think there’s a considerable risk of not reopening. You’re talking about what would be permanent economic damage to the American public,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We’re going to reopen in a very thoughtful way that gets people back to work safely, that has them social distance,” Mnuchin said. “People will be able to go into stores.”

Over the past several weeks, amid mounting job losses and a high unemployment rate, there’s been a push to reopen some businesses that were shuttered to curb the CCP virus pandemic.

On May 8, the Labor Department issued a jobs report that found that nearly 15 percent of people are unemployed, while at least 20 million have filed for unemployment insurance over the past eight weeks or so.

“These are not large numbers because the economy isn’t doing well. These are large numbers because we’ve shut down the economy,” Mnuchin said.

Nurses work at a drive-thru testing site for the CCP virus
Nurses work at a drive-thru testing site for the CCP virus at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., on May 6, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Mnuchin said there could be a 25 percent unemployment rate, and it would be because “we closed down the economy” to mitigate the spread of the virus. It’s “unlike the Great Depression, where we had economic issues,” he said, referring to the huge economic downturn of the 1930s.

Mnuchin said “the reported numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better,” but he predicated stronger third and fourth quarters.

“Next year is going to be a great year,” he said. “I see the glass as half full and not half empty. … Yes, there are issues, but we’re working through those issues. The task force is working through those issues when we see them. The task force is figuring out how to fix them.”

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is not in a rush to sign another trillion-dollar relief bill, despite calls to do so by top Democrats in Congress, Mnuchin and other White House officials have said. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others have signaled they want to vote on another stimulus package that would send money to state and local governments next week.