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ADMINISTRATION OPTIMISTIC; REPORTERS NOT

by Sharon Rondeau

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a White House presser on the economy and COVID-19, July 2, 2020 (White House live stream)

(Jul. 2, 2020) — During a press conference on Thursday morning beginning just after 9:35 a.m. EDT, President Trump touted the record-setting 4.8 million jobs gained last month reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) earlier today.

The prediction had been a gain of 3 million jobs as the country recovers from the coronavirus shutdown.

Citing statistics for certain demographics and other record-setting gains, Trump said a fourth economic-stimulus bill is under consideration, a statement echoed in more detail by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin several minutes later.

Mnuchin called the new stimulus legislation “CARES 4” after the “CARES” bill passed on March 27 aimed at maintaining employees on small-business payrolls and assisting Americans directly with cash payments.

Following Mnuchin’s opening remarks and brief comments from White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow, Mnuchin resumed the podium and took questions from reporters, who were not as optimistic as to the economic outlook due to rising “positive” coronavirus cases in the Southwest and Southeast.

More than 50,000 new cases nationally were reported Wednesday, one journalist pointed out, and asked if the administration will be issuing a national mandate for mask-wearing.

As an aside, Mnuchin said he and Kudlow were not wearing masks because they were tested for COVID-19 “this morning.”  To the reporter’s question, he said he is not authorized to speak for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

A “CARES 4” bill will be “much more targeted,” Mnuchin said. “Our work is not done,” he said, adding that “it’s our priority when we get to the CARES 4 bill in July” that businesses which were “particularly hard-hit” are the intended recipients of the “$130 billion left” from previous efforts.  “There is no question that this is working,” Mnuchin said.

For his part, Kudlow acknowledged that “we have more work to do” on restoring the American economy to pre-COVID-19 status.

The states of Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and parts of California have seen sharp increases in cases, while initially-hard-hit Northeastern states are seeing very low infection rates amid slower reopening schedules.

In the states where sharp increases have occurred, Mnuchin said, the administration is carefully monitoring the rates of hospitalization.

After taking a number of questions, at least one of which was off-topic and Mnuchin did not answer, Mnuchin ended the presser at 10:03 a.m.

The White House’s Council of Economic Advisors’ statement on the economic outlook/jobs report is here.

Few, if any, outlets appear to have aired the full presser.  After Trump made his exit and Mnuchin began to speak, Fox News cut away to its current anchor, Sandra Smith.

The full presser was posted by Yahoo! Finance.

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Updated, 10:45 a.m. EDT

 

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