Lawmakers close in on coronavirus stimulus deal; reaction and analysis on ‘The Five.’
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Saying the county was nearing the “the end of our historic battle” with “the invisible enemy” of coronavirus, President Trump began Tuesday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing by emphasizing his hope that the country will largely reopen for business by Easter — as his top economic advisor suggested Congress may soon pass an unprecedented fiscal stimulus package.
Director of the United States National Economic Council Larry Kudlow specifically said the new coronavirus bill working its way through Democrat-driven congressional gridlock would total $6 trillion: $4 trillion in liquidity from the Federal Reserve, and $2 trillion in new money. Typical annual appropriations from Congress in a given fiscal year are around $1.2-4 trillion, and total expenditures roughly $4.3 trillion.
“I said earlier today that I hope we can do this by Easter,” Trump said, referring to his comments at a Fox News virtual town hall that social distancing restrictions could soon be eased. “I think that would be a great thing for our country, and we’re all working very hard to make that a reality. … Easter is a very special day for many reasons.”
Also at the briefing, both Vice President Mike Pence and Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, remarked that anyone who has left New York City in recent days may have been exposed to coronavirus, and should self-quarantine for 14 days regardless of where they are now.
“We should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival,” Trump said, adding that coronavirus has shown “how critical it is to have strong borders and a robust manufacturing sector.”
As his approval numbers hit their highest point ever, Trump went on to tout the impact of the expected congressional stimulus package as a good sign for the nation’s financial future.
“The Dow surged over 2,100 points,” Trump said. “That’s the all-time record in the history of the exchange.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its best day since 1933. Investors released some frustration that had pent up over days of watching Democrats repeatedly block GOP stimulus efforts, as they sought to add measures to restrict airlines’ carbon emissions, pay off student loan debt, encourage federal agencies to employ “minority banks,” bailout the U.S. Postal Service, and fund New York City’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listen as Larry Kudlow, White House chief economic adviser, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The president, who tweeted Sunday that “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” declared at the Fox News virtual town hall that “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”
Pressed by Fox News’ John Roberts on the timeline, Trump said at the briefing: “We’ll be looking at a lot of things — we’ll also be looking at very large portions of our country, but I’ll be guided very much by Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, and by Deborah [Birx].”
Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases whose absence from recent coronavirus briefings triggered a wave of speculation in the media, said the timeline was still “flexible.”
On Sunday, Fauci rejected attempts by journalists to drive a wedge between himself and the president. “The president was trying to bring hope to the people. I think there’s this issue of [the media] trying to separate the two of us. There isn’t fundamentally a difference there,” Fauci said.
Democrats, meanwhile, have reacted furiously to Trump’s new timeline, with Hillary Clinton suggesting people would “needlessly die,” and Joe Biden accusing Trump of spreading “misinformation.”
“This a–hole and his rich friends are too stupid to get that we can only get through this together,” wrote former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau. “Everyone is at risk from the virus. Everyone suffers when there aren’t enough hospital beds. Everyone struggles when millions are too sick to work.”
Fellow Obama communications alum Tommy Vietor, meanwhile, deleted a tweet lamenting that he was reduced to drinking red wine in the shower during the economic shutdown.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and Allie Raffa contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.