The US economy risks suffering “permanent damage” the longer the lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says.
American families and businesses are suffering amid the nationwide shutdowns, Mnuchin tells a Senate committee, but reopening the economy will need to be done with caution.
“We’re conscious of the health issues and we want to do this in a safe way,” he says of efforts to restart the economy.
Mnuchin says the government is willing to take risks with the funds it has put up to help the economy withstand the unprecedented hit from the coronavirus pandemic.
He appears remotely before the Senate Banking Committee in an unusual joint appearance with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to review how officials are using the over $2 trillion in support Congress approved in late March in the so-called CARES act.
Government data show more than 30 million jobs have been destroyed, at least temporarily, by the lockdowns, and some legislators have complained that aid programs have been drained mostly by large corporations rather than the small businesses they were intended to help.