Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, released the following statement on the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut interest rates by half a percentage point in response to concern that the coronavirus may hurt the U.S. economy.

“I welcome the Fed’s timely and aggressive action. It’s critical for the President to be equally aggressive in his efforts to protect public health, turning from complacency and denial to a coordinated, full-bore response. The Fed’s actions alone won’t calm markets and stabilize the economy – it will require presidential leadership and a level of competence that the administration has thus far failed to demonstrate.

“So far, the President’s failure to respond effectively to the coronavirus has put us at greater risk.

"Just yesterday, the CDC removed from its website the number of people who have been tested for the virus. When lives are at stake, the public needs more information from government – not less – that’s accurate, and not pseudoscience from the President.

“The President’s lack of leadership on the coronavirus won’t just hurt our health, it’s very likely that it will hurt our economy. The stock market already has suffered the worst weekly drop since the financial crisis. Businesses are at risk because their supply chains are interrupted – including the supplies of key medicines and medical supplies. In addition, markets for American exports are affected, as are imports from Asia at U.S. ports. Economists predict that the outbreak could have a substantial impact on GDP.

“Ironically, our public health and our economy are at risk in part because of our country’s failure to provide quality, affordable health coverage and paid sick leave to everyone. People without paid sick leave will go to work when, from a public health standpoint, they should stay home. This puts others at risk, multiplying the rate of infection. It’s time for us to realize that family-friendly policies, both quality, affordable health coverage and paid sick leave, are essential to maintaining public health and for safeguarding our economy.

“Instead of a president who plays politics when it comes to the human and economic impact of the virus – as the President did last week during his press conference – we need one who will actually lead. The coronavirus doesn’t care about the President’s pride or poll numbers.

“Ultimately, the lack of leadership coming from the President could make a bad situation worse, which would result in even more lives at stake. But it’s hard to be surprised by his ignorance and inaction since this is a president who wants to put Americans’ health at risk by cutting the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control budgets by billions.”