Mnuchin: U.S. Will Slowly Reopen Economy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) —
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin answers questions during a daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, April 21. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday the economy will be reopened slowly but he cautioned that waiting too long risked severe economic damage.

“We’re going to slowly open the economy,” Mnuchin told Fox News in an interview.

“But there is also a risk that [if] we wait too long, there is a risk of destroying the U.S. economy and the health impact that that creates,” he said.

Mnuchin said he expected the second quarter to be “pretty bad” but if the economy is reopened safely then subsequent quarters will be better and next year “we’ll be back to having a great economy.”

Democrats in the House of Representatives are proposing a $3 trillion-plus coronavirus relief package, which would more than double Congress’s financial response to the economic toll of the virus.

Mnuchin said the legislation, which includes nearly $1 trillion in assistance for state and local governments and could be voted on this week, is “very partisan.”

“This is not in the spirit of anything that’s been bipartisan, and I can’t see that moving forward in its current framework in any event,” he said.

Mnuchin said the Trump administration was open to spending more money in the future but “we’re not in a rush to do that this week or next week. We’re going to take our time.”

President Donald Trump said earlier on Wednesday that the $3 trillion-plus coronavirus relief package proposed by Democrats in the House was dead on arrival.

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