3 June 2020

Mnuchin Says Most of U.S. Economy Will Be Open Later In Summer

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TOPLINE U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he expects most, if not all, of the economy to be open by “later in the summer.” Many members of the Trump administration, including President Trump himself, are pushing for states to reopen quickly despite warnings from health officials.

KEY FACTS

“We’re looking forward to by the time we get later in the summer having most of the economy, if not all of the economy, open,” Mnuchin told the Fox Business Network.

Shutdowns to stem the rapid spread of the coronavirus has taken a staggering toll on the American economy: more than 22 million Americans have filed for temporary unemployment benefits, for instance, and nearly half of all states have reported double-digit percent losses to the cash reserves they use to pay unemployment claims.

An emergency loan program designed to keep small businesses afloat burned through $350 billion in less than two weeks before lawmakers were able to agree on a way to replenish the program’s funds.

Even as President Trump has pressured states to reopen, most governors have heeded warnings from health officials about the danger of lifting restrictions too early, though some have taken cautious steps toward normalcy.

Georgia has taken the most aggressive action to reopen businesses after issuing a stay-at-home order, with Governor Brian Kemp announcing Monday that some businesses, including gyms, hair salons and bowling alleys, will be able to reopen as early as this week.

Last week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned that the economy will need to re-open on a regional, rolling basis: “New York is going to be very different than Arkansas,” he said.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Trump talked up the 20 states that he said are making plans to reopen: "They're going to be doing it safely," he said. "They're going to be doing it with tremendous passion."

KEY BACKGROUND

After days of tense debate, Senate lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill worth some $480 billion that would replenish funds for emergency small business lending programs and shore up national coronavirus testing as a stopgap ahead of another round of major relief legislation. Lawmakers had been scrambling to pass supplemental economic rescue legislation after the Paycheck Protection Program, one of the cornerstones of the $2 trillion CARES Act, exhausted its $350 billion in funding last Thursday after less than two weeks.

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