Republicans Set April Target Date for Reopening Economy
House Republicans hope to reopen the American economy by the end of April if progress has been made combating the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our focus is on locking down the virus while we’re taking the steps now to prepare to reopen the economy by the end of the month if the virus permits,” Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters Thursday, according to the Washington Examiner.
The Texas Republican said that the unemployment and gross domestic product numbers will “feel brutal over the short term. It’s because they are.”
“This economy is taking hits like we’ve not seen in most of our lifetimes,” he said. “But it is just a short-term hit.”
The Department of Labor reported that 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits during the last full week of March.
“We all know things are terrible. We all know millions of people are losing their jobs,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment strategist at Bleakley Advisory Group, told CNBC.
“We had this sharp decline in anticipation of this news. The next batch of news we don’t know is what is the duration of this and what is going to happen in May. We hope at the end of April that we are looking at a slow reopening.”
Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist of MUFG Union Bank, told CNBC that March’s 4.4 percent unemployment rate could rise into the teens.
“Everybody knows that people are going to be out of work,” Rupkey said.
“Until the stay-at-home orders are lifted by states and local governments, the most important number for forecasting the economy is not job losses. The most important number is indication that the virus spread is slowing.”
Economists say the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act can help companies and workers get through the shutdown, but more financial aid is needed.
Brady also praised the $300 billion in tax rebates, as well as the deferral of payroll taxes for businesses included in the CARES Act.
“This, in essence, applies to all businesses of all sizes. It is an interest-free loan,” he said.
“It allows businesses to keep these dollars in their bank accounts, not Washington, until the end of the year and give them fully two years to pay it back.”
President Donald Trump originally wanted to reopen the country on Easter Sunday, which falls on April 12.
But on Monday, Trump extended the coronavirus safety guidelines through the month of April in an effort to mitigate the effects of the pandemic outbreak.
“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” Trump said.
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