The Finance Minister noted that despite the signs of economic recovery, the country is far from a successful January situation
WASHINGTON – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says a second round of major aid to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is “still needed” even as the U.S. economy shows signs of recovery.
Mnuchin’s statement came amid stalled talks on Capitol Hill about the second round of aid.
The debate stalled after the federal unemployment allowance for millions of Americans of $600 a week was stopped at the end of July.
Democrats in Congress have called for an extension of those payments, while Republicans have proposed limiting them to 70 percent of workers’ earnings.
The estimated total cost of the new round of aid also divided lawmakers. The Democrats’ package is estimated at $3 trillion, while Republicans have called for a limit of $1 trillion.
“We’re still very far from the situation we were in January when we had a record-breaking economy,” Mnuchin told the House Select Committee on Coronavirus on Tuesday.
Mnuchin noted that July was the third consecutive month of retail sales growth. The housing market has returned to a level close to pre-crisis, and 592,000 new jobs have been created in the leisure and hospitality industry, indicating increased confidence in the opening economy.
He noted that the number of unemployed Americans did not reach the threshold of 40 million people, as many analysts predicted.
But The chairman of the special committee, Rep. James Clyburn, provided other unemployment data, saying that as of August 1, 29 million Americans were receiving or expecting unemployment benefits.
He also warned that signs of recovery in the stock market will not benefit all Americans.
“The administration has argued that this partial recovery means that we are guaranteed a V-shaped economic recovery in which the economy will quickly return to full strength,” said Democrat Clyburn. “The evidence does not support this. We continue to see about 1 million Americans apply for unemployment benefits every week.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday after a phone call with Mnuchin that there remain “serious disagreements” between Democrats and President Trump’s administration over a new coronavirus bill.
“Unfortunately, this phone call clearly showed that there are still serious differences between Democrats and the White House in understanding the seriousness of the situation facing American working families,” Pelosi was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“During our conversation, I once again expressed hope that Republicans will sit down at the negotiating table and work with Democrats to save the lives and livelihoods of the American people,” Pelosi said.