Update (1740ET): Following reports that small banks were on the verge of pulling out of the administration's $350 billion "Paycheck Protection Program" over fears they might be blamed for corruption and fraud due to hurried oversight, the White House got Jovita Carranza (the woman who replaced Linda McMahon at the helm of the SBA) and Steve Mnuchin out in front of the cameras to deny reports about a "power struggle" or someother breakdown between them.
In addition to assuring the press that they had stayed up "until 4 am" to smooth out all issues, Mnuchin and Carranza insisted that checks would start landing in bank accounts and small businesses would have access to the loan programs (remember, this money was supposed to cover rent, utilities and payroll due on April 1) which would be "up and running tomorrow."
But as Mnuchin went on to discuss the program and how small business owners could access the funds, he mentioned one interesting little nugget that the White House had unsurprisingly decided to play down, we assume on the advice of whoever is still working on the Comms Office.
Mnuchin said that he was planning to raise the interest rate on the government-guaranteed loans (in other words, risk-free profits) to help make them "economic" for banks.
Remember, other than processing and administering the programs (no small expenses), the banks aren't taking any risk here, so they can book it as profit. With all the money expected to go out the door, this is essentially a massive handout to banks.
But with real rates effectively negative in the US, the banks apparently told the Treasury that 50 basis points wasn't a large enough tribute, and that if Mnuchin didn't pony up another 50 bps, the banks would walk away and just let Main Street eat itself.
Asked by a reporter for his 2 cents, Mnuchin said he believed Nancy Pelosi's push for a select oversight committee to investigate the federal response to the outbreak was unnecessary.
Of course, the banks would never actually do that. But Mnuchin and many other members of the administration (even Trump himself) have close ties to Wall Street. We suspect he didn't put up too much of a fight.
Oh, and earlier in the evening, Trump said he took another 'rapid' COVID-19 test, and tested negative. Trump said he took it "mostly out of curiosity to see how quick it worked."
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Following reports about the administration deciding on an official 'recommendation' that the public wear facemasks when outside, President Trump, Vice President Pence and the rest of the White House coronavirus task force are holding their Thursday press briefing.
Over the last day, questions about the timing of the stimulus checks and anger over the imminent fate of the Navy commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt have been big parts of the political conversation, along with the never-ending debate about the administration's handling of the response.
The White House and CDC have hesitated to officially recommend that Americans wear masks while in public as evidence has mounted showing they do help combat spread. Though there's still some evidence to suggest that they do little to protect the uninfected, even those studies suggest that the masks help infected people avoid spreading the virus.
Of course it's hardly surprising that they hesitated - crowds of people wearing facemasks haven't been normalized in North America yet. But with so few people in the streets, at least Americans can ease into the uneasiness.
Watch Thursday's live feed: