Can the economy recover in parts of the country as early as next month?

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber discusses his take on the economic debate.
3:54 | 04/13/20

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Transcript for Can the economy recover in parts of the country as early as next month?
The nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says the economy could have a rolling re-entry in parts of country as early as next month. Provided health officials can identify and isolate people likely to get sick. Here to give us his take on the economic debate is the Ford professor of economics at M.I.T., who has also served as an adviser for the affordable care act, Jonathan Gruber. Thanks for being with us today. As an economics professor, what are your impressions of the initial government stimulus package? I think the stimulus package was actually pretty good along a lot of dimensions. Most importantly was the money given to individuals through the $1200 check to adult to make sure that people can meet their needs. Look, right now, this isn't a stimulus package, think of the economy as a patient in a coma, we don't want to wake that patient up until we have a cure. Right now, we just have to keep the patient alive. That's what the first stimulus package tried to accomplish. What do you think the priorities should be for the next round of stimulus? I think for the next round of stimulus we need to focus on the healthcare sector and those losing health insurance. On the health sector, the first round did include the $100 billion rescue fund. For healthcare providers we need much more than that. We need a way to distribute to healthcare providers that are hurting the most and we need to focus on the millions of people who are going to lose their health insurance and paying for the care they need. We've got a situation where the -- we start with 20 million uninsured people, that number will rise by several million at least. We need the affordable care act to be as strong as possible in this moment of need. Now, Jonathan, there's a lot of debate about when we can reopen our country. What's your feeling, how can we end the lockdown and get the economy going again? Basically, the key point is that we can't equate flattening the curve purely with quarantine. If you just end quarantine and go back to life as normal, you don't flatten the curve you just delay the peak. We'll have the same huge number of deaths, hundreds of thousands of deaths three months later. We have to follow the quarantine with efforts to continue to slow the progress of the disease. What does that means? That means vigilant testing, that means contact tracing, those who are infected and who they've been in contact with people and get them in quarantine. That periodic shutdown of the economy. This won't end until we have a vaccine. This doesn't end on may 1st. This ends when we have a vaccine. Until that point, we have to continue to vigilant. We already learned so many painful lessons to date. But what changes do you think our country needs to make to better prepare for future issue like the coronavirus? The most important long term is to recognize that we need investments in science and research that aren't necessarily in the interest of profit-maximizing companies. In my book, we talk about how the U.S. Government used to lead the way in research and development. We used to spend 2% of our entire economy on government-sponsored r&d and that's what led to great discoveries like vaccines. The private sector don't want to invent the new vaccine. We need the government to lead if way in promoting research and development that will protect us, vaccines, investments in the energy grid, how much we need better energy, broadband connectivity, these are investments that the government needs to lead for the long-term future. Very, very interesting. Jonathan Gruber, thank you for your insight. We appreciate it. You bet. My pleasure.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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