Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he expects to have a small business loan program up and running in the coming week while workers can expect aid from the $2 trillion stimulus package in the form of direct deposits or checks in about three weeks.
The administration is focused on getting “this money into the economy quickly,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday,” one of two television appearances for the day. “That’s a combination of small business loans that will be available this week” and checks to households which he called “bridge checks.”
“Any FDIC bank, any credit union, any fintech lender will be authorized to make these loans” to a small business subject to certain approvals, Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin was the White House’s lead negotiator on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package signed into law by President Donald Trump Friday to buffer the economy against the wide-scale shutdown and joblessness as the coronavirus swept through the country.
Mnuchin was asked about estimates that the U.S. could see unemployment as high as 20 percent and GDP down by as much as 24 percent in the second quarter of 2020.
“It’s hard to predict these numbers because we’ve never had anything like this where we shut down the U.S. economy for medical reasons,” Mnuchin said. “The economy was in very, very good health when we shut it down, and let me just say, we’re very sympathetic to the people who don’t have jobs, and that’s why the president was very clear he wanted me to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis quickly to support those people.”
The magnitude of the economic devastation being wrought by the coronavirus pandemic was laid bare on Thursday when the U.S. government reported an unprecedented surge in the number of people seeking jobless benefits.
A total of 3.28 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the week ended March 21, dwarfing previous highs in Labor Department reports published since 1967.
“I don’t know what the numbers are going to be this quarter,” Mnuchin said. “What I think is that we’re going to kill this virus reopen the economy and in the third quarter the economy will bounce back.”