President Trump called into ‘Hannity’ Tuesday night to discuss the coronavirus’ effect on the economy, upcoming election, and partisan politics.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Let me ask you about — let me go back to the economy for just a minute here. And you’ve been saying it repeatedly in every one of your task force briefings and answering questions from the press, that you want to get the country moving. We weren’t built not to be moving like this. I know there’s been talk of an economic task force. Art Laffer, who’s a big fan of yours, supported the idea of a payroll tax. He wasn’t as much in support of the relief package. Would you consider an economic task force? Would you consider geographically opening up certain sections of the country? Do you think, in heavily concentrated areas like New York City, would there be some type of antibody, temperature-taking test without violating America’s privacy concerns? PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yeah. Well, first of all, Art Laffer is great — great man, great economist, was with Reagan. He looks like he’s 25 years old, but he’s not. He’s a little older than that. But he’s — he’s aged well, I will tell you that. HANNITY: That might make him a little — that might make him a little younger, yes, sir. TRUMP: Yeah, little bit. But he’s a great guy and he’s a — he’s a brilliant man in so many ways. And I agree that the payroll tax cut would be fabulous. I think, payroll tax cut, I think Art would agree; I’d like to have the payroll tax cut regardless of this problem that we just — that just arose recently. So we’re looking at payroll tax cut, and that would be almost immediate and it would be over a little bit of an extended period, which is a good thing, too. And it would be — you know, be very quick. We’re having tremendous — you know, with the paycheck, we’re having tremendous success with this plan, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, the big banks, Wells Fargo, we were on with Citibank today we had a call — hundreds of thousands of applications are being processed. And many community banks, you know, hundreds and hundreds of community banks all over the country, they’re doing this, where, you know, the loan goes out. It goes out to the small business, but they have, one thing — and the one condition, they have to pay their people; they have to be able to keep their people on the payroll. Otherwise it’s a real loan, a real, tough loan. But they’re going to — you know, they’re going to do that. It’s been incredible how — how so far — I mean, I hate to say flawlessly, it’s three days, but it’s away ahead of schedule. And, in fact, we’ll probably increase that because the money is going to be spent much sooner than we thought. And that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. The banks have been incredible. They’re doing it with Small Business, as you know — the Small Business Administration. HANNITY: On the reopening of the country, have you — are you looking more at something geographically oriented? Are you looking at — you know, for the very specific challenges of a high concentration of people in a small geographic area? How do we open them and open them safely again so rebounds don’t happen, and how to quickly deal with the rebound or a hot spot if pops up? TRUMP: Well, I’d love to open with a big bang, one beautiful country, and just open. But it’s very possible. You know, there are some areas that are not affected very much and there are other areas like New York and New Jersey that have a tremendous impact — Louisiana, great state, and it’s incredible. They came in late because, you know, they were doing great and then, all of a sudden, it just sprung up. You look at parts of Michigan. Detroit has been hit very hard. So there are some places that are hit very hard, and other places have not been hit very hard, frankly — I mean, by comparison, very little. So we’re looking at two concepts. We’re looking at the concept we open up sections. And we’re also looking at the concept where you open up everything. And I think New York is getting ready, if not already, but getting ready to peak. And once it peaks, it will start coming down, and then it’s going to come down fast. We’re way under any polls or any of the models, as they call them — they have models, and we’re way under, and we hope to keep it that way, in terms of death. You know, one model was, if we did nothing, a big step was to — to close the country. You know, we had the greatest economy in the history of our country, and then all of a sudden, they come in and say: Sir, you’re going to have to close it it. This is — you know, we have this incredibly dangerous — they point to 1917, 1918, where from 75 million to 100 million people were killed. That was the worst — the worst ever. And nothing — I mean, that was unbelievable. But if we didn’t do anything with this; if we did what some people wanted to do, we could have very, very tremendous numbers — tremendous numbers. That was in Europe. It actually started here, believe it or not. We were affected, but not nearly as bad as Europe. It wiped out — I mean, it just was unbelievable. That was your all-time bad. So you have to be careful because you look at that, and close to 100 people get killed, you have to think that, you know, nobody would have thought it could have happened, but then you have to think, when you see this coming in and you see what was happening in China, you have to say, well, maybe this can happen here, so we have to be careful. HANNITY: Two-point-two trillion, $4 trillion available. Money is freed up from the Fed for loans. There is some talk about $2 trillion infrastructure. I know it has a lot of people nervous, people wanting to see, well, let’s — how does this first $2.2 trillion work out, the loans work out first? It seems like the mitigation efforts have been successful, as you just pointed out, you know, more than enough hospital beds, more than enough ventilators in New York — from what was being predicted a week ago, I know, for me as a New Yorker, I’m pleasantly surprised that it is far less severe than was being predicted and — TRUMP: Well, I think a lot of that is because of the fact that the American people have been incredible. They really — you know, they did do the social distance and they kept away. They kept their distance. They — they really stayed at home for the most part — not in all cases, obviously. But, really, I think they did much better than anybody would have thought possible. I know some of these models were surprised by how incredible the people acted. Because, you know, you’re not going to catch it if you stay away. And they were really impressed. As far as the economy is concerned, I think we have a chance to really open big and really open with an up — and catch where we were, because we do have tremendous stimulus. And, you know, the dollar is very strong. Our currency is very, very strong, the strongest in the world by far. It’s also the biggest in the world by many, many times. It is really the only currency of — the euros, they are, a little bit, but the euro is peanuts compared to the dollar. And we have a strong, powerful dollar. So when we go out for this, Sean, everybody wants to put it in — you know, they want to put it — they want to invest in the dollar. They want to invest in our country. So we’re paying a zero interest rate. I mean, we’re paying, like, zero. So this would be a great time to do infrastructure, when you’re paying just about zero interest rate. I mean, we never had anything like this, probably won’t have another chance. But we — we spent $7 trillion, now almost $8 trillion in the Middle East, for just — just a disgraceful decision that was made many years ago, going into the Middle East, a sad decision. And you want to fix a pothole. You want to fix a pothole on a highway, and they say, well, we don’t want to do that; we don’t want to spend the money on that. Yet we’ve spent $8 trillion and millions of — millions of people killed, if you look at both sides, and thousands of our soldiers, our great people. And then we don’t want to do our own infrastructure. No, we want to rebuild our country, Sean. We want to — we want to reinstitute. We want to come back and get back into our country and spend money in our country. It’s time, after all of these many, many decades of wasting money all over the world for people that never appreciated it.