WH Econ Adviser Warns ‘We’re At A Precarious Moment’ For COVID And Economy

Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese speaks during a press briefing on January 22, 2021, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
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January 22, 2021 1:52 p.m.

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese emphasized on Friday the urgency of taking “decisive action” to fix the economic damage brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re at a precarious moment for the virus and the economy,” Deese said during a White House press briefing as he was laying out President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan. “Without decisive action, we risk falling into a very serious economic hole, even more serious than the crisis we find ourselves in.”

Biden is set to sign two executives orders Friday afternoon: one intended to combat food insecurity for Americans, and another to set into motion a $15 minimum wage for federal workers and contractors. The Biden administration has made clear that the wave of executive actions are not a substitute for congressional action to provide relief to Americans struggling to make ends meat as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage.

The official warned that if “we don’t act now, we will be in a much worse place and we will find ourselves needing to do much more to dig out of a much deeper hole.”

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“When you’re at a moment that is as precarious as the one we find ourselves in, the risk of doing too little, the risk of undershooting far outweighs the risk of doing too much,” he told reporters. “And that’s the economic logic, the economic case behind this package.”

Later on Friday, Biden signed executive orders aimed at providing economic relief, which include expanding food assistance programs, establishing a “network of benefit delivery teams and a coordination structure” to facilitate access to relief benefits, and triggering the process of requiring federal contractors to pay $15 minimum wage.

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