While Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was painting a somewhat rosy picture as to where the U.S. economy is heading, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett used harrowing terms like “grave situation,” “negative shock that our economy has ever seen” and “Great Depression” to describe the situation. Both administration officials shared their differing messages on separate Sunday morning news programs.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked the secretary about the president’s claim that the economy will rebound “faster than people think.”
Mnuchin replied, “I think as we begin to reopen the economy in May and June, you’re going to see the economy really bounce back in July, August, September. And we are putting in an unprecedented amount of fiscal relief into the economy. You’re seeing trillions of dollars that’s making its way into the economy and I think this is going to have a significant impact.”
Wallace pushed Mnuchin on his optimism, citing the Congressional Budget Office projections and what Mnuchin’s previous employer, Goldman Sachs, had recently said about how “the global hit will be four times worse than the 2008 Great Recession.”
The Fox News host asked: “Are all those independent experts wrong?”
Mnuchin gave some ground, saying, “Well, Chris, we’ve never seen anything like this.”
But the secretary returned to his optimistic outlook and spoke about the “unprecedented amount” of money that’s been injected in the system. “And as businesses begin to open you’re going to see demand side of the economy rebound,” Mnuchin added.
However, on ABC News’ This Week, White House senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett used rather grim terms while speaking on the same topic.
“Make no mistake: it’s a really grave situation,” Hassett said. “This is the biggest negative shock that our economy, I think, has ever seen. We’re going to be looking at an unemployment rate that approaches rates that we saw during the Great Depression.”
Hassett continued his straight medicine approach to explaining the situation while pointing out how much worse the current downturn is as compared to the financial crisis of 2008.
“During the Great Recession, remember that was a financial crisis around 2008, that we lost 8.7 million jobs in the whole thing. Right now, we’re losing that many jobs about every ten days,” Hassett said.
NEW: White House senior adviser Kevin Hassett tells @gstephanopoulos that the economic outlook is a "really grave situation."
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 26, 2020
To be fair, both advisors said the next couple of weeks and months will be pivotal to how the economy may ultimately fare. And this is unchartered territory. But for both administration officials to make the Sunday morning news show rounds while expressing almost polar opposite themes, does not strike confidence that Trump’s economic team is on the same page. And that’s worrisome.