The United States has “tough months ahead” before it gets the coronavirus pandemic under control, meaning the government must “act forcefully to make sure Americans do not suffer needlessly,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Thursday.
The situation with the pandemic and the economy, Yellen told ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” is “as serious as any I have seen in my lifetime,” and as a result, “we need to act big” on a coronavirus stimulus relief package that will “provide a bridge so people aren’t scarred indefinitely by this crisis.”
She said President Joe Biden is committed to getting the United States through the upcoming difficult period, including getting people vaccinated, children back to school, and making sure the economy comes out on the other side with a strong labor market.
“Seeing people waiting in long lines for food is something we should never see,” Yellen said.
Biden is looking to pass legislation on a bipartisan basis, she added, noting that she’s met recently with mayors and small business owners on both sides of the aisle and they just need help.
The unemployment situation, meanwhile, with 1.3 million people filing new claims last week, is the “highest level” of claims since the Great Recession back in 2007-2009, she added.
“Small businesses around the country, so many of them have closed,” said Yellen. “They’re the lifeblood of their communities and they really need help to make it to the other side.”
Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan is vital to recovery, said Yellen, who has previously chaired the Federal Reserve.
“We’re at a point in our history when we’re faced with not one but two crises — a pandemic that has impaired the health of Americans and an economic crisis that is as serious as any I’ve seen in my lifetime — and I want to make sure that Americans don’t suffer needlessly and that we attend to their needs,” Yellen told anchor Robin Roberts.
Yellen also discussed the GameStop stock market controversy and will meet Thursday with regulators and economists to determine if further action is necessary with the situation.
“I’m actually hosting a meeting later this morning with top regulators at the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and also the Federal Reserve to discuss recent developments,” Yellen said. “We really need to make sure that our financial markets are functioning properly, efficiently, and that investors are protected.”
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