Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the Trump administration is not asking Congress for bailouts when it pushes for money to help protect certain American businesses disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic as he sought to calm fears surrounding the volatile stock market and the effect of the coronavirus on the economy.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, Mnuchin said that he and President Trump are hoping for “a big stimulus program because we need to help American workers now.” He specifically mentioned businesses like airlines and cruise lines within the travel industry as possible targets for stimulus funds, but told Wallace the administration does not want a bailout.
“If you’re providing liquidity to good businesses that just need liquidity for 3 to 6 months,” Mnuchin said, “that’s not a bailout.”
Mnuchin said the administration’s efforts will focus more on individuals than corporations.
“To the extent that we need to support different businesses that are impacted, again our focus is going to be on stimulus for the workers and getting money to the workers that are impacted,” he said.
Early Saturday morning the House of Representatives passed a coronavirus relief bill, which Mnuchin was heavily involved in negotiating and received the backing of President Trump. According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the bill includes paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. “We have also secured enhanced unemployment insurance, a step that will extend protections to furloughed workers,” she said.
Pelosi also said the bill included food security measures and increased federal funds for Medicaid. Mnuchin said the Trump administration is working with the Senate to shepherd the bill through for the president’s signature.
“I’m speaking to senators, I don’t wanna predict, I think there’s a lot of bipartisan support, I hope they pass this bill,” Mnuchin said. If the bill cannot make it through the Senate, he said he will work to come up with a compromise bill between the GOP-controlled Senate and the Democrat-controlled House.
“Whatever we need, we are gonna get from Congress,” he said.
Also in his interview with Wallace on Sunday, Mnuchin went out of his way to ease investors’ fears after a week that saw trading stopped on two separate occasions because of sharp sell-offs and the worst day for the market since 1987. Mnuchin said the drop in the market was related to the coronavirus fears. He said he was optimistic about the U.S. government’s ability to stop the spread of the disease, which would eventually lead to the market getting back on track.
“If the medical professionals are correct and we’re doing all the things, I expect we’ll have a big rebound later in the year,” he told Wallace. “This will have an end to it as we confront the virus.”
Emphasizing how difficult it is to predict the top of the market or the bottom of the market, Mnuchin pleaded with investors to focus on where the market would end up in the long-term.
“People who brought stocks after the crash in , people who bought stocks after the financial crisis [in 2008] did really well. So in terms of long-term investors, I have every confidence that this market is going to be higher down the road and the U.S. is still the greatest place to invest.”
Fox News’ Alex Pappas, Samuel Chamberlain and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
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