The government should provide more aid to individuals and small businesses, said former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn in an interview Thursday with NBC News’ Stephanie Ruhle.
“The federal government needs to come back, and they need to come back with another round of fiscal stimulus,” Cohn said. Lawmakers in Washington are still working to reach a deal on a new package of coronavirus stimulus aid, following the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March.
On the claims of a V-shaped recovery from his successor, current NEC Director Larry Kudlow, Cohn does not discount the progress that has been made.
“I remind everyone where we were in March and April. We have clearly made a significant recovery,” he told Ruhle in a session of the Texas Tribune Festival, which is produced in partnership with MSNBC.
Cohn said there is still a huge financial issue for the nation, even with recent gains. “When you look at small- and medium-sized businesses, you look at anyone involved in the travel, leisure, hospitality, entertainment industry, they are suffering,” Cohn said. “Until we find a way to bring that industry back and many other small local businesses, we're not to be in a huge, strong, deep economic recovery.”
Six months into the pandemic, Cohn says that progress has been made, but with the number of unemployed Americans still in the tens of millions, there is more to be done. “The reality of the economy is that we still have to get small businesses going, we still have to get the unemployment rate down,” Cohn said.
Cohn is calling for stimulus aid to small business and education in particular. “We're going to get a return on investment from the children of this country being educated, they're going to join the workforce and they're going to be productive and they're going to pay income tax, and they're also going to be able to start businesses and hire new people of their own,” he told Ruhle.
Cohn attributed recent ups and downs in the stock market to the pull of a few major companies moving the needle. The big companies "that really gain market share, are almost given market share, because they were deemed essential in this crisis, those companies have thrived,” he said. “The bigger companies dominate the performance of the index so the indices are going up, even though many of the stocks, many, many of the stocks in the index are not doing well.”
Cohn said he was still making up his mind whom he will vote for in November. He told NBC that he will be watching both candidates closely on debate night this Tuesday.
“As the electorate, we deserve to hear about these policies, we deserve to hear about our deficit, and how we're going to deal with our deficit. We deserve to hear about jobs and wage growth,” he said. “We should be given the opportunity to hear what both candidates think so we can make an educated decision.”