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On the heels of the worst unemployment report in U.S. history, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday things were “probably going to get worse before they get better.”

After coronavirus-caused shutdowns brought the economy to a near-halt in April, figures out last week put the jobless rate at 14.7%, the highest level since the 1930s.

Mnuchin, however, repeated President Trump’s prediction that the economy would see a strong third quarter and a still better fourth one. On “Fox News Sunday,” the Treasury secretary said the administration was “very focused on rebuilding this economy” as states began to reopen.

“Next year is going to be a great year,” he said.

As the administration and Congress weigh another economic-stimulus package — something Trump said last week he was in “no rush” to see enacted — the White House is calling for a payroll tax cut, a move opposed by Democrats and some Republicans.

Mnuchin threw cold water on the idea of supplemental funding for states whose budgets were devastated by the virus, imperiling basic public services.

“We are absolutely pushing for the payroll tax cut,” he said, calling it a means of “delivering money to American public and business in a very effective way.”

The Treasury secretary added, “We’re not going to do things just to bail out states that were poorly managed.”

Congressional Democrats point out that many of the states pressing for more federal funding, including New York and New Jersey, are so-called donor states, which pay more in taxes to the federal government than they receive back.

White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett, though, did not rule out additional aid for states and local governments in the next relief package — although he said a decision now would be “premature” until the economic effects of current reopenings were better understood.

“We’ve got a bunch of economies around the country and around the world starting to turn the lights back on,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Hassett said the administration was “watching to see what happens to economic activity and the path of the disease.”

Source : https://www.latimes.com/california/liveblog/coronavirus-live-updates-friday-may-8

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