News & Politics

Administration May Offer 'Targeted Stimulus' Economic Package for Certain Industries Hit by Coronavirus

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the press briefing room at the White House, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence, and Robert Redfield listen. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House that the administration was not going to offer a huge economic stimulus package to deal with the expected slowdown as a result of the coronavirus. Instead, he said the administration was thinking of more “targeted” action to help certain industries like airlines and travel.

The Hill:

“The story I am trying to tell is a story of timely and targeted microforms of assistance, not gargantuan, across-the-board, throw money at the problem, which has not worked in the past,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House.

“Because we think that we will get out of this in months,” Kudlow added.

The Washington Post is reporting that the White House was considering deferring taxes for some sectors, including the hospitality, cruise, travel, and airline industries.

Democrats were cool to the idea.

“I don’t know that talking about additional tax cuts now, other than for political purposes, is what we ought to be focused on. What we ought to be focused on is what is our medical response to this,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) this week.

Trump seemed breezily confident during his trip to CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

Asked whether his administration should take more action to reduce the risk of a recession, Trump said that Americans were spending money stateside instead of traveling overseas.

“Well, what we can do is do what we do. We’re getting a lot of business from people staying, which I’ve always liked anyway — you’ve known that for a long time. But people are staying here and spending their money here as opposed to going to Europe and other places,” Trump told reporters Friday morning before departing the White House. “Now, that’ll change when this goes away and hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.”

As the media begins to go into a frenzy over the spread of the virus, Kudlow sought to keep everything in perspective.

It’s part of a tightrope act by the country’s leaders to avoid causing alarm, while also offering reassurances that they will shield the economy from a potential recession if the situation worsens.

“I just don’t want to panic,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNBC Friday morning. “Let’s try to be calm and not overreact.”

A look at the headlines today should tell you that the media are gorging themselves on the crisis, criticizing anything and everything Trump does, including canceling, then rescheduling, a visit to the CDC after officials expressed concern because of a suspected coronavirus case at the CDC itself. Apparently, the media secretly hopes Trump gets the virus because they immediately jumped on the cancelation as a sign the White House and Trump weren’t serious about the disease.

Trump eventually made the trip but the media is full of stories about how the White House has already botched the response.

Kudlow is right to downplay the economic effects of the coronavirus. He’s basically saying, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” That’s the responsible way to act in a crisis.