- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday the administration is taking a look at reopening some targeted areas of the country for business and that congressional leaders are close to striking a deal on a $2 trillion-plus fiscal stimulus package.

“After the 15-day period is over, which I guess ends [at] the end of this week or the weekend, we will take another look at the possibility of targeting areas that are safe enough,” Mr. Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said on Fox Business Network.

“We have to do this with the assent and help of the health specialists — there’s no question about that,” he said.

He said they’re hearing from a lot of small businesses who want to see if they can “liberalize” and “target more” and “stop as many shutdowns as we have.”

“That doesn’t mean [we’re] going to leave social distancing; that doesn’t mean we’re going to walk away from the mitigating advice that we’ve received from our health specialists and so forth,” Mr. Kudlow said. “It just means we’re going to take a slightly different look at this and I think the president would like to do something in the next couple of weeks.”



On March 16, President Trump had announced a 15-day period during which people were encouraged to stay at home if possible and avoid elective surgery.

But Mr. Trump said on Monday that the country can’t stay shut down forever and suggested he’d like to take another look at things at the end of that time frame.

A number of governors around the country have also issued various degrees of “stay at home” orders, as well as directives to shutter non-essential businesses.

Mr. Kudlow also said Capitol Hill leaders were very close to striking a deal on a $2 trillion-plus fiscal stimulus package to try to assist workers and businesses who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

He said the package is “absolutely essential” to the reopening of the economy.

“We know small businesses have been shut in, we know that a lot of workers are either furloughed or laid off,” he said.

Talks had stalled despite a quick timeline laid out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, with Republicans complaining that Democrats were tacking on unrelated items at the last minute that dealt with issues like unions and election funding.

Mr. Kudlow said that coupled with $4 trillion of lending authority for the Federal Reserve, the stimulus could add up to about $6 trillion, or 30% of GDP.

“This is the largest Main Street assistance package in the history of the country,” he said.

He said they’ve compromised with Democrats on issues like unemployment insurance.

“Here we are with a $6 trillion package and we may be taking a new look at the shut-ins around the country,” he said. “But let’s get this thing passed. Let’s just get this bill passed. It’s so important.”

Mr. Kudlow said a $500 billion stabilization fund for businesses, states and localities is not a “slush fund,” as Democrats have described it.

“This is aboveboard,” he said. “Everyone will get a chance to see it. Nothing’s going to be hidden, and we’re just trying to get the basic essentials of the economy.”

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