Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that President Trump is looking into reopening parts of the U.S. economy as the coronavirus pandemic moves toward its peak, which White House experts say will be this week.
“The president is very much looking at how we can reopen parts of the economy,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business. “There are parts of the country, like New York, where obviously this is very, very concerning. There are other parts of the country where it’s not.”
Mnuchin also offered a bit of comfort to owners of small businesses, saying, “If you can’t get the loans today or tomorrow, don’t worry. There will be money; if we run out of money we’ll go back for more,” adding, “I know the president is very much looking at how we can reopen parts of the economy.”
Fox host Maria Bartiromo said, “We’re in lockdown. Do you think that this next eight weeks they’ll open up in the time that they can actually use the money and make sure that the employee has the money but they’re also going to actually get revenue in so that they can open up again? Because this is an eight-week period that they’re giving money to employees and they’ve got no revenue. They’re in lockdown. So at some point, they may have to fire that person anyway, because they won’t make it.”
Well, Maria, the whole point of them hiring these people now is because they have no revenues. The government is giving them money to pay their employees. And if eight weeks from now we need more money, we’ll go back to Congress. But the whole purpose of this is we understand small business has no revenues, and that’s no fault of their own; that’s because of the coronavirus. We’re going to kill this virus, and during this period the president wants to make sure that employees are paid.
So the whole purpose of this is people have zero revenues. Go take the loan, pay your employees, use the 25% overhead and pay rent and electricity and other things, and at the end of the period, as long as you use the money for what you’re supposed to use, the loan will be forgiven. And the only time we’d ever come back against somebody is if the money was used for fraudulent purposes … Now let me just encourage everybody out there: If you can’t get the loans today or tomorrow, don’t worry. There will be money; if we run out of money we’ll go back for more.
Bartiromo then asked: “Do you think this shutdown is going to go longer then eight weeks?”
Mnuchin answered: “Maria, I hope not; I hope we can get back to the point — I think everything I hear from the medical professionals —in many places we are close to the worst point; they’re beginning to peak, and I think then things are going to get better, and I know the president is very much looking at how we can reopen parts of the economy. There are parts of the country like New York, where obviously this is very, very concerning; there are other parts of the country where it’s not; and so he’s meeting with the task force and the medical professionals and getting posted on this every day.”