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McHenry: Before COVID We Saw the Best Economy of Our Lifetimes, We Need to Do That Again

McHenry: Before COVID We Saw the Best Economy of Our Lifetimes, We Need to Do That Again

September 22, 2020 

Today, the House Committee on Financial Services held a hybrid hearing with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on the Administration’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to rebuild the record-breaking economy Americans experienced before the coronavirus.

Watch Ranking Republican Patrick McHenry’s (NC-10) opening remarks here.

Read Ranking Republican McHenry’s opening remarks as delivered:

“We all know that testing, treatment, and therapeutics need to come online for a full economic recovery. That is moving at pace, and an unprecedented pace, I would say. Not just globally, but here in the United States with great innovators, and the coordination between the public sector and the private sector has been the best it’s ever been in generations.

“This Administration’s response to this unprecedented pandemic—this Federal Reserve’s response to this unprecedented pandemic—is top-notch.

“It is fantastic. The delivery that Secretary Mnuchin was able to provide on PPP, which supported 51 million jobs and issued over 5 million loans to small businesses impacted by COVID. That was a direct intervention of the Treasury Secretary and his team at Treasury.

“The Federal Reserve stood up more facilities in a six-month period of time than they did in the fullness of the financial crisis. They stood up more facilities than they did in decades prior to this pandemic.

“I would give the Federal Reserve an A+ for its initial response and to where we are. Just because Congress can’t get its act together and compromise and see a way through so we can provide for those people that are still hurting because of this voluntary shutdown of our economy—because of this health crisis.

“We need to give those people relief, and we need to come to terms. That means that Democrats and Republicans need to move to the middle.

“And I would commend Secretary Mnuchin for his negotiations, and his willingness to move the ball forward on behalf of the American people even in the midst of the crazy politics that we’re currently experiencing, and people shouting in the streets and threatening violence because they don’t like political perspectives.

“So, I would commend him for being willing to negotiate where others have walked away, like Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer. Saying $3 trillion is all we’re going to accept, and nothing less, is completely unacceptable.

“We need to find compromise to support those people who are still out of work because of this global health pandemic.

“Quite frankly, in their bill, Democrats would rather bail out blue states and hold out for that rather than help people that are still out of work because their jobs are shut down.

“Let me finish with this, what we saw at the end of last year was the best economy of our lifetimes.

“We had household wage growth at almost 7 percent in 2019. Households were feeling wealthy for the first time in a very long time in my state of North Carolina, and across the country.

“We need to do that again.

“We know that we’re in the midst of this health pandemic. We know that therapeutics are coming online. Treatment techniques are much better than they were at any time since March.

“And those things are coming along, and maybe there will be a vaccine. But we need to have treatment, and we need to have testing at wide scale so that people can get back to some semblance of economic life.

“But what I would like to hear today is the limits of the Federal Reserve’s actions and activities, and where Congress should act. Because monetary policy simply cannot do the same thing that fiscal policy can.

“And on the fiscal side of the house, Secretary Mnuchin, I’d like to hear the economic plan from this administration on how we get past—when we get past this awful scourge of COVID—what that economic recovery must entail to get people back in the position they were in in 2019, or even in January or February of this year.

“I think there’s a good story to tell, and a hopeful story to tell, if we can work together and get things done.

“I look forward to your testimony and I yield back.”

Watch the full hybrid hearing here.

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