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Politics Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills

07:15  12 april  2021
07:15  12 april  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says the economy would have been "so much worse" if the COVID-19 relief bills were never passed by Congress.

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills © Greg Nash Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills

In an interview with "60 Minutes" that aired on Sunday, CBS's Scott Pelley asked Powell what he thinks would have happened to the economy if the rescue packages were never passed.

"You know, I hate to even think. It would've been so much worse," Powell told Pelley.

"Congress, in effect, replaced people's incomes. Kept them in their homes, kept them solvent, kept their lives together with what they did in the CARES Act. It was heroic," he said.

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Former President Trump signed the first major coronavirus relief bill, the $2 trillion CARES Act, in March 2020. On December 27, 2020, Trump signed another relief package, this one totaling $2.3 trillion.

On March 11, President Biden signed a third major COVID-19 relief bill into law, totaling $1.9 trillion.

Powell told the program that the unknowns at the outset of the pandemic were "terrifying," which is why he became a vocal supporter of the multi-trillion dollar relief legislation.

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He also took action on his own at the Federal Reserve, invoking the Fed's emergency lending powers, "60 Minutes" noted. Powell lowered the benchmark interest rate to near zero, and purchased trillions of dollars in bonds on the open market so credit could continue to flow, the program reported.

Powell added that the economy performed "substantially better" than what was expected when the coronavirus first set in, noting, however, that the more than 550,000 lives lost is a "tragedy."

"So I think if you look back a year ago to when we last spoke, the economy's actually performed better than we had feared. Substantially better," Powell said.

"The other side of that, though, is if you told me at this time last year that 550,000 plus people and counting would die of COVID-19, I would have been shocked. You know, it's a lot of tragedy. It really is. And we don't want to forget that," he continued.

Since the height of the pandemic last spring, The U.S. has made strides in its recovery effort. Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that the U.S. added 916,000 jobs in March, which shattered economist projections of 675,000 jobs.

Additionally, the department reported that the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent last month.

Congress' most effective lawmakers aren't generally its household names .
Center for Effective Lawmaking released its rankings of the 116th Congress. And those focused most on policy may surprise you.The center recently released its effectiveness scores for members of the 116th Congress, which ran from Jan. 3, 2019, to Jan. 3, 2021. The bottom line: The lawmakers often in the news — particularly from the House of Representatives — aren't generally the ones sponsoring bills that make significant headway through Congress or making substantial policy proposals. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is one exception.

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