On Saturday, President Donald Trump expressed his support for the idea of a second coronavirus task force charged specifically with laying out a plan for “the reopening of the economy” through the easing of coronavirus-related shutdowns and other social-distancing measures. According to officials, he’s now in the process of following up on the idea.
Trump first signaled that he was looking into the idea in response to a social media post from Fox News host Dana Perino. “I think we need a 2nd task force assembled at direction of POTUS to look ahead to reopening of the economy. Made up of a nonpartisan/bipartisan mix of experts across industry sectors, so that we have their recommendations [and] plan – let 1st taskforce focus on crisis at the moment,” Perino tweeted Saturday.
“Good idea Dana!” the president responded. He elaborated on the idea at a press conference later that day. “Thinking about it, getting a group of people and we have to open our country,” Trump told reporters. “You know, I had an expression, the cure can’t be worse than the problem itself. Right? I started by saying that and I continue to say it. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. We got to get our country open.”
On Wednesday, citing multiple unnamed administration officials, The Washington Post reported that Trump is “preparing to announce as soon as this week a second, smaller coronavirus task force aimed specifically at combating the economic ramifications of the virus and focused on reopening the nation’s economy, according to four people familiar with the plans.”
“The task force will be made up of a mix of private-sector and top administration officials, including chief of staff Mark Meadows — whose first official day on the job was last week — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and national economic adviser Larry Kudlow, a senior administration official said,” the Post reports. “…The economic task force — which will be separate from the main coronavirus task force, despite having some overlapping members — will focus on how to reopen the country, as well as what businesses need to rebound amid catastrophic conditions. The goal is to get as much of the country as possible open by April 30, the current deadline Trump set for stringent social distancing measures.”
Two officials say that Meadows is likely to lead the task force. Another potential member is Kevin Hassett, Trump’s former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
The preparation of the economy-focused task force comes amid three weeks of devastating, historic unemployment claims. On Thursday, the Department of Labor revealed that roughly 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, the second week in a row in which over 6 million Americans filled jobless claims. The Labor Department also revised last week’s report of 6.6 million weekly claims up to 6.8 million.
As The Daily Wire noted, “The new data is significantly higher than economists’ expectations, who predicted around 5 million lost jobs, according to The Wall Street Journal. For the past three weeks, more than 16 million people have filed for unemployment, largely due to coronavirus-related business closures.”