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Former White House economic adviser returns as economy tanks over coronavirus

Congress mulls massive coronavirus bailout
Congress mulls massive coronavirus bailout 01:56

Former White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett is returning to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a temporary unpaid economic adviser, he confirmed to CBS News, as the administration scrambles to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Hassett, whose return was first reported by CNN, has offered some dire economic pictures in recent days, as businesses across the nation shutter and economic activity slows to a near halt. 

Hassett, who left the White House last year, is part of the administration team negotiating a trillion-dollar stimulus package on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed legislation that would offer $1,200 checks to Americans earning $75,000 or less, phasing out after $99,000, but Democrats are concerned the bill puts companies before workers because it also provides relief for hard-hit industries like the airline industry.

Hassett has painted a bleak financial picture of the future, as economic gains under the Trump administration were wiped out in a matter of days, and it's unclear when American life will return to some version of normal. If Americans stay home for months, the economic fallout could be like the Great Depression, Hassett has warned. 

"If everybody stays home for six months, then, you know, it's hard to — it's going to be like the Great Depression," Hassett told CNN's Poppy Harlow on Thursday. "And so the question is just like, if we don't make any progress on the virus, then they're going to have to figure something out to get people back to work."

Hassett warned that March job lesses could be among the worst on record. 

The administration has been unable to give answers on how long restrictions on normal American life will continue, but Dr. Anthony Fauci said on NBC's "Today" Friday that American families should be prepared to stay home for "weeks." 

"I cannot see all of a sudden next week or two weeks or three weeks from now it's going to all of a sudden be over. I don't think there's a chance of that. I think it's going to be several weeks," Fauci said. 

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