Coronavirus: Trump says US economy will ‘pop’ again soon amid warnings of huge job losses

Mnuchin proposes stimulus bill include a way to send some Americans checks as soon as possible

John T. Bennett
Washington
Tuesday 17 March 2020 16:53
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Trump recommends avoiding crowds of more than 10 people

Donald Trump, amid experts' warnings of massive job losses during the coronavirus outbreak, is predicting the US economy will "pop" again soon if Americans take steps to stifle the disease and "win this war."

"It's going to pop," he said during a White House briefing. "One day, we're going to be standing up here, saying, 'We won.' I think we're going to win faster than people think." But then the suddenly stoic president added a caveat as the number of US cases approaches 5,000: "I hope."

The president stopped short of asking Americans to avoid hoarding food and critical supplies, but he did say his team is "trying to get people to buy less."

"Don't take everything, just buy what you need," he said.

Mr Trump, for the first time in his term, sidestepped when asked specifically about the US economy, which he previously has described as a reason he deserves a second term.

"We are looking to save the maximum number of lives," he said. "Everything else is going to come back. A life is not going to come back."

Deborah Brix, a senior State Department official helping direct the federal response, confirmed less than 60,000 Americans have been tested.

He also called on Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill to finish work on a second virus aid package and then move quickly on an economic stimulus bill he is proposing that could be as large as $850bn, including a pay roll tax cut for hourly workers and help for the US airline industry

Notably, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the emerging massive stimulus package could not include a payroll tax holiday, but all sides are "considering" a provision to "send checks to Americans" soon; the payroll cut would bring money to them months down the road. Both Mr Mnuchin and Mr Trump made clear the idea needs the sign off of members of both political parties. Those payments likely would be larger than $1,000, an amount reported by several news outlets, he said.

"This is worse than 9/11," Mr Mnuchin said of the airline industry.

On that emerging stimulus deal, Mr Trump said all involved "want to go big, go solid" rather than "going back [to Congress] every day." A few moments earlier, Mr Mnuchin told reporters the White House wants to push a package through both chambers "very quickly."

After over a week of stock market losses, Mr Mnuchin made clear there is no plan to close US markets – but he left open the possibility of shortening the trading day.

More follows…

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