‘WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF’…
(Liberty Headlines) Top Trump administration officials and congressional leaders struggled Monday to finalize a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package as the Wuhan virus crisis deepened, even as President Donald Trump seemed to suggest he had qualms about extending the current 15-day suggested shutdown.
“I didn’t expect to be starting off my week with such a dire message for America,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on “CBS This Morning,” as he warned the numbers will grow get worse this week. “Things are going to get worse before they get better. We really need everyone to understand this…and lean into what they can do to flatten the curve.”
The proliferation of the availability of tests for COVID-19, which were more scarce previously, will lead to more diagnoses that previously went undetected — hence the growth in numbers of cases in the statistics.
Only hours before the surgeon general’s warning, Trump suggested in a tweet that the remedies may be more harmful than the outbreak in a tweet that contradicted the advice of medical experts across the nation.
“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he wrote, adding: “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
Trump officials and congressional leaders, meanwhile, were to resume talks at 9 a.m. after working through the night on the massive $2 trillion economic rescue plan. Democrats had derailed the plan Sunday night, arguing it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health care providers.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin exited the Capitol just before midnight, struck an optimistic note: “We’re very close,” he said, adding negotiators would work through the night.
“Our nation cannot afford a game of chicken,” warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., his voice rising on the Senate floor Sunday night.
His goal is to vote Monday. The Senate will re-convene at noon.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, also sounded an optimistic note.
“This bill is going to affect this country and the lives of Americans, not just for the next few days, but in the next few months and years — so we have to make sure it is good,” he said. “There were some serious problems with the bill leader McConnell laid down. Huge amounts of corporate bailout funds without restrictions or without oversight — you wouldn’t even know who is getting the money. Not enough money for hospitals, nurses, PPE, masks, all the health care needs. No money for state and local government, many of whom would go broke. Many other things.”
But Schumer said they were making progress in dealing with those issues: “We’re getting closer and closer. And I’m very hopeful, is how I’d put it, that we can get a bill in the morning.”
On the economic front, the Federal Reserve announced Monday it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments as well as extend its bond buying programs as part of a series of sweeping steps to support the flow of credit through an economy ravaged by the viral outbreak.
The Fed said it will set up three new lending facilities that will provide up to $300 billion by purchasing corporate bonds, buying a wider range of municipal bonds, and purchasing asset-backed securities.
It also says it will buy an unlimited amount of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities in an effort hold down interest rates and ensure those markets function smoothly.
Trump urged Congress to get a deal done and, during a Sunday briefing, responded to criticism that his administration was sluggish to act. He cited his cooperation with the three states hardest hit — New York, Washington and California — and invoked a measure to give governors flexibility in calling up the national guard under their control, while the federal government covers the bill.
But even as Trump stressed federal-local partnerships, some governors, including Republican Greg Abbott of Texas, expressed unhappiness with Washington’s response. The president himself took a swipe hours earlier at Gov. J. B. Pritzker, D-Ill., saying that he and “a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News” should not be “blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings.”
In recent days, Trump invoked the Defense Protection Act, a rarely used, decades-old authority that can be used to compel the private sector to manufacture needed medical supplies like masks and ventilators. Officials said Sunday that it would be used voluntarily and businesses would not be compelled to act.
“We are a country not based on nationalizing our business,” said Trump, who has repeatedly railed against socialism overseas and among Democrats.
The urgency to act is mounting, as jobless claims skyrocket and fnancial markets are eager for signs that Washington can soften the blow of the healthcare crisis and what experts say is a looming recession. Stock futures declined sharply as Trump spoke Sunday evening.
Officials late Sunday put the price tag of the ballooning rescue package at nearly $2 trillion. That does not include additional measures being taken by the Federal Reserve to shore up the economy.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.