Transcript: Steven Mnuchin on "Face the Nation," March 29, 2020

Mnuchin says many will get cash from coronavirus bill "within 3 weeks"

The following is a transcript of an interview with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that aired Sunday, March 29, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who joins us from the White House. Good morning to you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY STEVEN MNUCHIN: Good morning. It's good to be here with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You will have incredible responsibility in oversight of this two trillion dollar rescue package. But what I want to specifically ask you about now is when Americans will receive those twelve hundred dollar checks?

SEC. MNUCHIN: We expect that within three weeks that people who have direct deposit with information with us will see those direct deposit in their bank accounts. And we will create a web based system for people where we don't have their direct deposit, they can upload it, so that they can get the money immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But twelve hundred dollars takes you a lot farther in Nebraska than it does in California. How do you want people to be spending this money?

SEC. MNUCHIN: Well, there's really three components of this law now that protects the American public. And the president was determined that we protect the American workers, since it was not their fault that we shut down the economy while we kill this virus. So the first component is small business loans, which about half of the companies in the US, people will be able to get small business loans and pay their workers for eight weeks. So we encourage people to do that and get them back to work. Two, they'll be enhanced unemployment insurance. And three, as you said, there'll be these- these checks in the mail or direct deposit. It's really bridge liquidity for people as they go through these difficult times.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Bridge liquidity for about eight weeks?

SEC. MNUCHIN: Well, I- I think the entire package provides economic relief overall for about 10 weeks. Hopefully we'll kill this virus quicker. In the end, we won't need it, but we- we have liquidity to put into the American economy to support American workers and American business.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you don't know if the economy is going to be up and running by Memorial Day, essentially? I mean, are you going to wait that long to come up with phase four round of stimulus?

SEC. MNUCHIN: Well, my main focus is now executing. We have everybody within Treasury and the administration working around the clock to get this money out quickly, since this doesn't do people any good if it takes a long time. We also have the task force and the medical professionals making recommendations to the president about when they think the economy will be reopened, and if for whatever reason, this takes longer than we think, we will go back to Congress and get more support for the American economy. But I hope that's not needed.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You will also have a- a key role in overseeing what is a tremendous financial rescue package for some of the biggest corporations in this country, at least 500 billion in- in size for one of- of these funds. How is this going to work? Should Americans at home understand that you're going to run this the same way that they saw the auto companies bailed out during the financial crisis? 

SEC. MNUCHIN: Well, let me just be clear. The majority of this money, 450 billion, is money that we use with the Federal Reserve to create broad-based programs. And, you know, Chair Powell and I speak multiple times a day. The way that works is the Federal Reserve requests us to approve a specific program. I, as treasury secretary, have to do that. I've approved every single one they've asked for so far. And in many of these packages, we put up money to support the credit for the Fed. So those are broad-based programs. There's also approximately 50 billion dollars that is in specific lending authority where we can lend to, out of Treasury, to the airlines industry and other national security industries where it's critical. And I'll be working with the president on- on all of those. And let me just emphasize,--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And specific-- 

SEC. MNUCHIN: --we have full transparency on anything we do. We will be reporting to the public.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. The president said on Friday, though, that the American public could end up owning large chunks of these corporations. What does that mean? Is this going to be run like the auto bailout- bailout was? Will the U.S. government essentially be getting equity stakes, warrants? Will American taxpayers be owning companies?

SEC. MNUCHIN: Well, let me be clear. We're not bailing out any companies or any industries. Any loans that we make, the- the taxpayers will be fully compensated for, and--

MARGARET BRENNAN: How? That's what I'm asking-- 

SEC. MNUCHIN: As the president said, we'll look at each one of these situations. Some of them are very good companies that just need liquidity and will get loans. Some of these companies may need more significant help and we may be taking warrants or equity as well as that. The president wants to make sure that the American taxpayers are compensated. This is not a bailout.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. So you still have to determine that. But specifically with a company like Boeing in particular, they've said they don't want to essentially allow these equity stakes. This potentially could be a company that is central to U.S. national security. In this bill, you have a carve out for $18 billion in direct Treasury assistance. How are you going to determine who that money goes to? Is that just for Boeing?

SEC. MNUCHIN: Well, first of all, we're not going to force money on any- any companies. We're going to put up very clear guidelines of what we're willing to do. Companies need to come in and request. And if they do, we'll be looking at a company specific situation. We'll be having financial advisors. We have sophisticated people we're working with and we'll take all those issues into consideration. And I will be discussing all of these with the president.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the president said that some of the most brilliant minds in the financial world are gonna be working on this. Who is it that is going to be weighing in? Because the president also said they make- make- may make money off of this. American taxpayers want to know who and how.

SEC. MNUCHIN: Well, any of the people who are working with us have already agreed to work at very, very, very reduced rates, making sure that, you know, this is a special situation. So we're not going to be paying big fees to any of these people and we're going to make sure there aren't conflicts in any of the people we hire. And as I said, there'll be full transparency. So the president is right. He's asked me to make sure--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have names?

SEC. MNUCHIN: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sorry. Do you have names for any of those individuals who will be doing this?

SEC. MNUCHIN: We- the- the Federal Reserve has already announced that they've hired BlackRock. BlackRock is one of the largest asset managers in the world. BlackRock was involved in the financial crisis last time. Larry Fink has enormous experience. So that's one of them that has been disclosed. And as we hire more people, we will fully disclose it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Secretary, I appreciate all of what you're doing in that you're saying it's going to take time to see if it's going to be successful or not. but do you need to level with the American people here and tell them you simply don't know that all these jobs are going to come back? I mean, the president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank said we could see unemployment hit 30 percent in the second quarter of this year. You saw 3 million people file for unemployment this week.

SEC. MNUCHIN: Well, let- let me clarify. I never said we didn't know if this will be successful or not. I think this- this program is going to be enormously successful in stabilizing the U.S. economy while hardworking Americans who lost their jobs or aren't able to work because of the medical situation, that they get help. So this money is going to go into the economy very quickly. It is going to help American workers very, very quickly. And I don't know how long it's going to take to kill this virus. I do know we will kill this virus. And when we do,--

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. 

SEC. MNUCHIN: -- I have great confidence that the U.S. economy will become roaring back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your time. 

SEC. MNUCHIN: Thank you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.