In a press briefing Monday night, President Trump floated the idea of re-opening the U.S. economy in order to curb the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a call Tuesday to Boston Public Radio, economic journalist Robert Kuttner was less enthusiastic about the idea, calling it “complete insanity.”
"The idea that letting this epidemic become much, much, much worse by abandoning self-quarantines and other public health measures will somehow rescue the economy ... is insane,” he said.
Kuttner, a professor at Brandeis University and co-founder of The American-Prospect, likened the U.S. government's handling of the outbreak to what took place during the Great Depression.
"What we’re seeing is a repeat of the 1930’s,” he said, "where the economy is crashing downward and at each step of the way the government’s response is insufficient, and so it it keeps on bumping downward."
He also said that the $2 trillion dollar aid bill, expected to pass through the Senate on Tuesday, won’t be enough to save the U.S. economy.
"Gross domestic product, which is to say the total output of goods and services in the economy, could easily fall 30 or 40 percent. And the remedy for that has to be a lot bigger than two trillion dollars. It has to be a lot bigger than the Fed throwing money at the bond market.”
Kuttner proposed that the U.S. could ease economic distress by enacting measures like reimbursing Americans for all of their lost wages, investing in massive infrastructure projects, and establishing the largest recovery program in U.S. history.
“The Democrats are famous for playing a good hand badly. This time they need to play a good hand well,” he said. "If that can happen, we can be spared the worst on the economy.”
He continued, “and if doctors can talk Trump out of defining this public health crisis out of existence, maybe we can be spared the worst of the epidemic.”