Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 54,000 Americans as of early Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is still focusing on his overly rosy outlooks for the economy at-large in coming months. In the last month or so, a staggering around 26.5 million Americans have newly filed for unemployment benefits, prompting one White House adviser to admit this weekend that the economic shocks are on par with the Great Depression — but nevertheless, Mnuchin is still sticking to his increasingly reality-detached, rosy outlook, as if there’s some giant switch he can flip to put everything back to normal.
White House senior adviser Kevin Hassett: "This is a really grave situation. This is the biggest negative shock that our economy has ever seen. We're going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates we saw during the Great Depression." pic.twitter.com/PAQfcMXXBt
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 26, 2020
This weekend during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, he told host Chris Wallace:
‘Well Chris, I think as we begin to reopen the economy in May and June, you’re going to really start to see the economy bounce back in July, August, September. We are putting an unprecedented amount of fiscal relief into the economy. You’re seeing trillions of dollars that’s making its way into the economy, and I think this is going to have a significant impact.’
MNUCHIN: “You’re going to see the economy really bounce back in July, August, September” pic.twitter.com/LG4HdIOXfq
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) April 26, 2020
Down in reality is an entirely different story from what Mnuchin is saying. In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, half of the restaurants that have closed down amidst social distancing restrictions may not reopen at all once the pandemic passes, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association has shared. Around San Francisco, there are around 3,900 restaurants, as an outline from local media explains, which implies a simply staggering level of closure, and it would not at all be far-fetched to suggest that the same scenario is playing out in other major cities across the U.S., especially places like New York, which has been hard-hit by the virus at a sharper rate than California.
Dining in San Francisco will likely never be the same. https://t.co/ydtNwdDoUD
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) April 25, 2020
Dr. Anthony Fauci himself, who works with the National Institutes of Health and has participated in the federal government’s Coronavirus response task force, admitted:
‘Some people may think it’s going to be like a light switch… it’s just not going to be that way.’
Those “some people” apparently include Mnuchin.
Dr. Anthony Fauci on re-opening the country: "Some people may think it's going to be like a light switch…it's just not going to be that way…."
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 14, 2020
There’s a real, acute relevance to his insistence that things will get back to normal soon, because the dubious claim can serve as a justification for limiting further financial assistance for struggling Americans amidst the pandemic, but the need remains anyway.
Axios issued a recent report outlining the looming possibility of months on end of economic lagging, well after the point that Mnuchin suggests a “bounce back” will bring the economy back to normal. As they bluntly explained, “hope of anything approximating normal in the coming months — and probably well beyond — is gone,” noting among other grim observations that “S&P now says the jobs recovery will take until next year, and we likely won’t get back to pre-coronavirus levels for a couple of years.”
The rapid switch back to normal that Trump and his allies seem to be after is nowhere in those estimations. Right now, Americans need continued medical and financial assistance, not rosy, baseless proclamations from Trump allies.