Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Says Putting Trump's Name on Stimulus Checks Was His Idea: 'Terrific Symbol'

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin noted Sunday that it was his idea to put President Donald Trump's name on each of the stimulus relief checks before they head out to millions of mailboxes nationwide.

Appearing on CNN's State of the Union, Mnuchin said he personally came up with the idea as a "terrific symbol" to taxpayers amid the coronavirus pandemic. The move was widely criticized as a narcissistic election year stunt. "Stimulus checks for $1,200 are being mailed out to many Americans, some already got them through direct deposit, but they're being mailed to help Americans through this crisis," CNN host Jake Tapper said to Mnuchin. "For the first time, ever, President Trump's name is going to appear on an IRS check, which is being put in the memo line because the president isn't authorized to sign the checks. Did the president personally suggest this idea?"

"Well, let me just correct you and say the checks have not gone out yet, and the reason why the checks have not gone out, is we're hoping that more people, as I said, will go to IRS.gov. It's much safer to send out direct deposits," Mnuchin replied.

"As it relates to the president's name on it, the president could have been authorized to sign the checks. That would have slowed things down," the treasury secretary continued. "We didn't want to do that. We did put the president's name on the check. That was my idea. He is the president and I think it's a terrific symbol to the American public."

Newsweek reached out to the White House Sunday afternoon for additional remarks.

The treasury secretary said he is expecting a "big rebound" in the U.S. economy in the coming months, citing both the slow reopening of businesses and the $2 trillion stimulus relief money being dispensed to individuals and businesses alike.

Mnuchin went on to say members of both political parties in Congress are "making a lot of progress" in their efforts to reach a deal on how to funnel money into the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of funds earlier this week after shelling out $349 billion, Tapper noted. Democratic lawmakers are seeking more funds aimed at "underserved, small business, mom-and-pop shops" versus larger restaurant chains.

The treasury secretary said he believes it will be months -- not years -- before the economy can get back to being in the strong position it was in before the pandemic. A Congressional Budget Office report released Saturday found Congress' relief law will add $1.8 trillion to the federal deficit, and the pandemic could allow unemployment rates to remain high through 2021.

"I think it will be months, I definitely don't think it will be years, " Mnuchin continued. "We are going to conquer this virus. We are going to have terrific breakthroughs not just on the testing but on the medical front. There are things that are being developed for vaccines, which will take a little bit longer, but one of the things we heard is people want testing. People will react positively that if they contract this disease in the future, there will be medical treatments available as well."

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appears on CNN's State of the Union program alongside host Jake Tapper to discuss the coronavirus. Screenshot: CNN