Exclusive — Treasury’s Monica Crowley on U.S. Reopening: ‘Rebound Will Be, Hopefully, as Quick as the Shutdown’

Monica Crowley and Steven Mnuchin
Facebook/Monica Crowley

Treasury Department spokeswoman Monica Crowley told Breitbart News on Saturday that she believes President Donald Trump is perfectly positioned to oversee the reopening of the United States economy.

Crowley appeared on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel on Saturday to discuss the reopening of the country as the health risks of the coronavirus crisis recede and public health officials guide the safe lifting of lockdowns nationwide. Asked how Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin intend to “Make America Great Again” again—to bring the economy surging back to where it was—she said Trump is the man for the job.

“If there’s any president that can do it, it’s President Trump,” Crowley said. “You know why? Because he’s delivered a roaring economy once, and he will do it again. We’re going to have to start a standstill because this was a government-mandated shutdown of the U.S. economy. One thing bears repeating because I think it’s gotten lost now that we’re two months into this situation, and that’s that this is a completely unprecedented challenge. The politics are so dug in that I think people have lost sight of the fact that neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence nor Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, because it’s unprecedented, they couldn’t pick up the phone and call their predecessor and say, ‘Hey, what did y’all do during the last pandemic?’ Because the last pandemic was in 1918. Never in the modern era have we experienced anything like this. So all of our leaders have been doing an extraordinary job feeling their way through this unprecedented challenge. I mean, I’m honestly proud of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Mnuchin, the entire economic and medical team that the president has assembled. They have done an extraordinary job under very vexing circumstances, and they’ve done it in record time. So the first part of your question is when this hit two or two-and-a-half months ago, the president mobilized everybody to take unprecedented steps to try to preserve American jobs, American workers, our small businesses, our great American industries, to bridge them over this very challenging time, but also temporary time, to get them to where we are now, where it’s looking like on the medical front, the virus has receded a bit so that all of the small businesses and industries—the broader American economy—could then be stood back up in a systematic, thoughtful, and responsible way. That’s what we’re looking at now.”

With more than 30 states reopening across the country, some on a county-by-county basis, Crowley said the Trump administration positioned the economy well for a bounce-back for when the public health officials—as they have—have given the green light to get moving again.

“So the tremendous accomplishments over the last several months have gotten us to where the president can turn these decisions over to the governors—as it should be—and the governors can then make responsible attempts at reopening of their states and then the reopening of the broader economy,” Crowley said. “In some places, governors will have to make decisions on a county-by-county basis, based on the medical conditions on the ground. That’s where we are, but this president, his vice president, and his treasury secretary, they have positioned us so that now we are better able to take on the reopening of the great American economy and get us going again.”

Since the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic—or more precisely, by the lockdowns the government mandated as a response to the pandemic—is artificial damage, not a more natural economic slide, Crowley said the hope is the “rebound” will be fast.

“Secretary Mnuchin has stated repeatedly, and I think he’s 100 percent correct, that this is not the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, where we had a situation that had developed around the financial system because of bad decisions and then everybody suffered the fallout because of bad decisions made by others—and it rippled through the economy, but it didn’t shut the economy down,” Crowley said.

“In this crisis, because of this external event—that came from China, this virus—it then caused a government mandate to shut down the entire U.S. economy. So then, a couple decisions had to be made early on, and one of them, which I think was absolutely critical, was the understanding that about 70 percent of economic activity in the U.S. is driven by small businesses. What we had to do was make sure small businesses and their workers were protected, again to get us ready for the eventual reopening, which is beginning now. About half of the private sector payroll in the United States is small business employees. That gave birth to the idea of the Paycheck Protection Program, which Treasury and the SBA—the Small Business Administration—launched in just one week. They essentially stood up one of the world’s biggest ever programs in a little under a week—it was an astonishing achievement. It is now helping tens of millions of American workers keep their paychecks and stay on the payroll, so again, as we’re seeing the reopening, they’re still on the payroll and can immediately go back to work. So again, I think that Paycheck Protection Program—which we’re now in the second wave of this—has been an astonishing achievement and novel idea by Secretary Mnuchin that has done wonders in getting us teed up for what you’re describing, which is the economy was shut down in rapid speed, and I think the hope is it will reopen gradually, again based on conditions on the ground and in a thoughtful and responsible way, but when it’s reopened, the rebound will be, hopefully, as quick as the shutdown.”

The Trump administration took a number of steps to protect American workers during the worst of this, she said. Crowley cited, in particular, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan system by which millions of small businesses nationwide have received loans that will be forgiven if they keep their staff employed during the lockdowns, as well as the economic impact payments or direct stimulus checks. More than 120 million Americans, she said, have received the unprecedented direct payments from the federal government. That is in addition to the industry-specific assistance for key hard-hit industries.

“When the CARES Act was passed on, I think, April 3 or thereabouts, it had a couple of different components, most of which needed to be executed by the Treasury Department,” Crowley said. “It’s all important, but the critical piece, as I mentioned, is the Paycheck Protection Program, was launched on April 3 about a week after the CARES Act was passed. It just took off. The SBA gave out more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days. I’ve heard the president say this. I’ve heard Ivanka Trump talk about this—14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days. That was in the first tranche, protecting over 30 million jobs—1.66 million small businesses getting loans in the first tranche.”

“In the second tranche, after the second allocation of the additional $310 billion, we are looking at an additional tens of millions of jobs being protected. In the second tranche, it’s important to remember, the average loan size in the second tranche has actually fallen to about $100,000 or so—which means there’s more money to go around to cover more Americans’ paychecks and help more American small businesses. SBA in the first 24 hours after it resumed on Monday processed a million loans. It’s just an incredible achievement, again processing a year’s worth of loans every single day. So there’s that achievement, and then, as you mentioned, the economic impact payments—they are carried out by Treasury and the IRS. As of yesterday, we have sent out approximately 120 million fast and direct payments to all eligible Americans. We have a little bit more to go, but we are working around the clock to get those payments out. They are going out via direct deposit, paper check, and also by prepaid debit card. So we are working apace. By the way, if you have not filed a tax return in 2019 or 2018 or if you don’t believe your direct deposit information is on file with the IRS so they can directly deposit these funds into your bank account, go to IRS.gov and there’s a button there called ‘Get My Payment.’ Click on ‘Get My Payment’ on IRS.gov, input your bank information, and you should get your direct deposit money—also Social Security recipients and veterans, there are tools on the IRS.gov website so you can get your money fast. So that program has also been a huge success.”

Crowley continued, “Then, we’ve got assistance going to state and local governments, and we are preserving jobs for great American industries like airlines with loans. Those are for domestic air travel, which also has a national security component to it. So we have been very busy, also working with the Fed on spinning up new Federal Reserve facilities for new liquidity for medium-sized and larger businesses.”

Crowley said the president has gotten the government to move at “warp speed” to protect Americans economically, something government is not usually good at doing.

“It has been an astonishing achievement by this president to get the federal government to move this fast,” Crowley said. “It is unheard of. Government usually moves like a snail. But this president, with his private sector mentality, has got the government to move at warp speed to protect the American people economically and medically as well.”

When asked what the administration is planning regarding potential sanctions or other efforts to hold China accountable for the coronavirus crisis, Crowley said that right now the administration is focused on getting the country through the public health and economic crises, then will worry about China after the worst has passed.

“I’m not going to get in front of the president or treasury secretary on any kind of policy discussions or decisions,” Crowley said. “I know that the administration’s sole focus at the moment is making sure that the American people are safe and that their well being is intact and that they are kept safe and healthy and that the other priority, of course, is the economic priorities in getting America stood up again and getting the economy roaring as only Donald Trump can do. I mean, he did it once, and he’s going to be asked to stand up and do it again within the space of four years, and he can do it because he’s got the pro-growth and economic policies that delivered it the first time around. After this, we will see what considerations are made with regard to making China accountable, and we will see where those discussions take us policy-wise.”



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