WASHINGTON, Aug 2 (Reuters) — The U.S. Congress is in position to spend big on coronavirus relief efforts because the nation’s budget gap can be financed without relying on foreign borrowing, given how much Americans are saving, a top Federal Reserve official said on Sunday.
“Those of us who are fortunate enough to still have our jobs, we’re saving a lot more money because we’re not going to restaurants or movie theaters or vacations,” Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“That actually means that we have a lot more resources as a country to support those who have been laid off,” he said.
The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives approved a $3 trillion relief bill in May, while Senate Republicans, many of whom have expressed concerns about mounting debt, countered by proposing a $1 trillion aid package last week.
Efforts to craft a compromise appear stalled.
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Donald Trump would spend what was needed, but that the deficit was a factor.
“There’s obviously a need to support workers and support the economy,” he said. “On the other hand, we have to be careful about not piling on enormous amount of debts for future generations.”
Kashkari took a different view, stressing both the high level of domestic saving and historically low interest rates.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “Congress should use this opportunity to support the American people and the American economy.”
“If we get the economy growing, we will be able to pay off the debt.”
(Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Daniel Wallis)