WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers on Sunday sought to project confidence that the economy would rebound in response to the recently passed $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. Their assertions came as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle continued to urge Trump against relaxing federal guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the fast-moving virus.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appearing on Fox News Sunday said he was uncertain when soaring unemployment numbers would start to level off, but insisted “we're going to kill this virus, reopen the economy and in the third quarter the economy will bounce back.”
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told ABC’s “This Week” the package passed by Congress and signed into law by Trump last week “may not be perfect, but I think it's going to give a tremendous amount of resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months.”
The package includes $600 billion in direct cash assistance to Americans that will be allocated based on income thresholds. Individuals who earn up to $75,000 will receive $1,200, with higher earners receiving gradually less based on a federal formula. Families will receive $500 per child. Small businesses will be eligible for $350 billion in assistance loans that will be available this week, Kudlow said.
Asked when Americans can expect to receive their checks, Mnuchin said: “We expect that within three weeks that people who have direct deposit with information with us will see those direct deposit in their bank accounts. And we will create a web-based system for people where we don't have their direct deposit, they can upload it, so that they can get the money immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.”
Mnuchin told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the stimulus package is expected to provide “economic relief overall for about 10 weeks.”
Trump last week said he would like to see the United States “opened up” by Easter, but on Sunday pushed back the social distancing guidelines to at least April 30. He had floated the prospect of reopening sections of the country that have been less impacted by the fast-spreading virus. But on Sunday, Trump said the Easter target was “just an aspiration,” adding that he expects “great things to be happening” by June 1.
The president also said Sunday that he believes Easter will mark “the peak number” of cases, “and it should start coming down, hopefully very substantially at that point.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union” the “best thing would be ... to prevent more loss of life, rather than open things up.” She criticized Trump’s response to the global pandemic saying he was slow to recognize the severity of the disease’s reach and has been slow to deploy resources to states.
“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” Pelosi said.
Asked about Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s recent criticism that the stimulus package does not cover the loss of state tax revenue, Pelosi said “we have to do more,” and raised the prospect of addressing Cuomo’s concern in a future bill.
“I think this bill was just a down payment,” Pelosi said before adding, “we have to pass another bill that goes to meeting the need more substantially than we have.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, warned that “no state, no metro area will be spared” of the outbreak. She said the administration is “asking every single governor and every single mayor to prepare like New York is preparing now.”
“The sooner we react and the sooner the states and the metro areas react and ensure that they put in full mitigation, at the same time understanding exactly what their hospitals need, then we’ll be able to move forward together and protect the most Americans,” Birx said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.), asked about Trump’s desired Easter time frame, told Fox News Sunday: “The virus is going to dictate the time frame, and we're going to follow the advice of the doctors and scientists ... two weeks from now, Maryland is going to look more like New York."
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) told CNN he would not ease up on the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’s guidelines even if Trump rolled back some of those measures aimed at preventing large gatherings.
“We need to make decisions based on science and reality,” Inslee said.