The number of coronavirus cases both in this country and abroad continues to rise, and Attorney General Bill Barr has sent a clear message to anyone attempting to exploit the crisis for personal gain, the Washington Examiner reported.
“The Department of Justice stands ready to make sure that bad actors do not take advantage of emergency response efforts, healthcare providers, or the American people during this crucial time,” he pledged in a statement released on Monday.
“I am committed to ensuring that the department’s resources are available to combat any wrongdoing and protect the public,” he added.
Barr warns would-be price-fixers
The statement also threatened criminal prosecution for “individuals or companies that fix prices or rig bids for personal health protection equipment such as sterile gloves and face masks.”
It added, “Competitors who agree to allocate among themselves consumers of public health products could also be prosecuted.”
Also referenced was the Justice Department’s recently created Procurement Collusion Strike Force, an entity that “will be on high alert for collusive practices in the sale of such products to federal, state, and local agencies.”
The coronavirus has had a negative impact on markets, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday seeing its biggest drop since the 2008 financial crisis.
Trump proposes stimulus
The Trump administration has floated the idea of implementing temporary payroll tax relief and other stimulus measures as a way to offset declines in consumer spending and provide help to hard hit businesses, but a detailed proposal has not yet emerged.
“The economy will be in very good shape a year from now,” Fox Business quoted Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as saying on Monday in an effort to alleviate widespread and growing fears of massive market disruptions due to the coronavirus panic.
“This is not like the financial crisis. This is about providing proper tools of liquidity to go through the next few months,” Mnuchin added.
Yet congressional Democrats do not appear to be on board with Trump’s strategy. According to The Hill, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) agreed that the president’s stimulus plan would be “dead on arrival.”
“I see folks who are being devastated, who are either losing their jobs temporarily or their hours are being cut, and there is nothing being done to help them get back on their feet,” the Democrat congressman was quoted as saying. Meeks went on to argue that reversing Trump’s 2017 tax cuts would be a more effective method of freeing up funds to help Americans impacted by an economic slowdown.