Ex-Trump adviser Gary Cohn says economy could be reopened on 'incremental' basis

Ex-Trump adviser Gary Cohn says economy could be reopened on 'incremental' basis
© Greg Nash

Former White House economic adviser Gary CohnGary David CohnGary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November Kushner says 'Alice in Wonderland' describes Trump presidency: Woodward book Former national economic council director: I agree with 50 percent of House Democrats' HEROES Act MORE said Tuesday that businesses could be reopened on an "incremental" location-based basis, after President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE said he hopes that the economy will be back up and running by Easter.

"Getting the economy started can be incremental by location - not all at once - and driven by local severity of #coronavirus," Cohn, who served as National Economic Council director at the beginning of Trump's administration, wrote on Twitter.

"We should be able to handle incremental economic activity in appropriate locations while not allowing it in other geographies," he added.

Cohn said that as businesses reopen, there could continue to be restrictions on customer density. "Better for a restaurant or retailer in a less-affected area to operate at 30% activity than 0," he said.

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The former Trump adviser also urged Congress to provide relief to businesses, including potential "payroll continuation." He said that companies that are partially open could use their own money to pay a portion of workers' wages and then use government support to make up the rest.

"Any incremental work would save the government (i.e., American taxpayers) money," he tweeted. "Win win."

Cohn's comments come as the president in recent days has voiced optimism that businesses that have closed due to the coronavirus will reopen sooner rather than later. 

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"Our people are full of vim and vigor and energy," Trump said on Fox News earlier on Tuesday. "They don’t want to be locked in a house or an apartment or some space.”

Cohn's successor as National Economic Council director, Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE, told reporters Tuesday that the White House was looking at having businesses reopen in areas where the coronavirus is less prevalent.

But public health experts and a number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns that if people start returning to work too quickly, hospitals could be overwhelmed and coronavirus deaths could rapidly increase.