National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow touted President Donald Trump’s signing this week of “the biggest assistance package in history,” but acknowledged the difficulty in saying with certainty whether the funds would be enough to meet the needs of the millions of Americans impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It may not be perfect, but I think it’s going to give a tremendous amount of resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months,” Kudlow said of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
“It’s the largest mainstream financial assistance package in the history of the United States, so it’s hard to know if we could get everything, help everybody,” he added on Sunday. “But I’m an optimist. I think the sheer resources here — we are putting in whatever it takes, we’re using every federal power lever possible to help folks and it’s going right into middle, lower-middle class people.”
The director has been one of the Trump administration’s most vocal cheerleaders of the stimulus package, arguing in recent days that it is going to “stabilize the economy.”
Among the features of the bill that Kudlow pointed to Sunday are $600 billion in assistance to 175 million individuals in the country, plus $350 billion in loans distributed to small businesses that the director pledged would be made available within a week.
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“We’re trying to keep folks working. We’re trying to let them have enough assistance to get through daily family needs with the kids, ” Kudlow said, adding, “We’re also protecting payrolls, all of the loans and loan guarantees will be forgivable … provided the small business people hang onto their payrolls.”
“This Week” Co-anchor Martha Raddatz asked him about the soaring number of unemployment insurance applicants and whether the financial assistance being offered by the federal government will be sufficient, and Kudlow noted the unprecedented expanse of the package.
“I think it will be enough,” he said, later noting that “about one-third of GDP, one-third of the whole economy is being covered by this package.”
“That’s really quite remarkable,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Kudlow came to Trump’s support when the president voiced concerns about the long-term economic impact of the widespread shelter-in-place directives across the country, with the director telling Fox News on Monday that the fiscal damage could be “just too great,” even as public health experts warned against too rapid a “reopening” of the economy.
But on “This Week” Sunday Kudlow voiced some uncertainty about the nation’s timeline to emerge from the outbreak of the virus.
“It could be four weeks. It could be eight weeks. I say that hopefully and I say that prayerfully,” he said. “That’s what some of the science experts are telling us. I don’t know if they’ll be right.”
Kudlow has faced criticism recently over comments he made in February claiming that the United States had the situation under control.
“We have contained this. I won’t say airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight,” he said during a CNBC interview on February 25 before the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States ballooned in March. He also predicted at the time that the virus would not lead to an “economic tragedy.”
Asked about those comments by Raddatz, Kudlow defended himself by claiming he was repeating the information given to him.
“I’m as good as the facts are,” he said Sunday. “At the time I made that statement, the facts were: contained … a lot of people agreed with me. In fact, at the time, a lot of people felt at the time that the flu was worse than the virus.”
“But as soon as the facts change, we changed our whole posture and our whole strategy and we’ve gone full bore,” he continued.
This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.