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Dem senator suggests officials want to sacrifice lives for bump in GDP, Dow in hearing clash

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was grilled Tuesday by several members of the Senate Banking Committee over the allocation of $500 billion in CARES Act money designated for …
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was grilled Tuesday by several members of the Senate Banking Committee over the allocation of $500 billion in CARES Act money designated for economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic — but it was a clash with Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown over the push to reopen the economy that generated the most attention.
The Democratic senator first noted the risks that essential workers take by putting their health on the line in providing necessary services for the country, and then accused the government — in dramatic fashion — of pushing the rest of the U. S. into equally dangerous situations without precautions.
«How many workers will die if we send people back to work without the protections they need?» Brown asked.
Mnuchin responded that the administration is not looking to send anyone back to work without protection, but Brown immediately asked a similar, more pointed question, trivializing the economic benefits of reopening businesses.
“How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP [gross domestic product] by half a percent?” Brown asked, adding: «How many workers should give their lives to increase the GDP or the Dow Jones by 1,000 points?”
Brown framed the debate over reopening as one of risking lives for the sake of making investors wealthy. But those pushing to reopen the economy typically point to the need to get everyday Americans back to work. Unemployment claims have pushed past 36 million since the crisis began.
Further, there was dire language in the Congressional Oversight Commission’s report on the CARES Act, which was the intended subject of Tuesday’s hearing.

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