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Biden Says Coronavirus Damage Could ‘Eclipse’ Great Depression

Tyler Pager

(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden said the economic recovery from the coronavirus would likely be the “biggest challenge in modern history,” suggesting it could surpass what the country faced after the Great Depression.

“I think it may not dwarf, but eclipse what F.D.R. faced,” Biden said Tuesday night in an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN, referring to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

But Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the recovery efforts would create an opportunity for the next president to address the nation’s longstanding structural problems.

He said the efforts should include provisions to help people meet basic needs like paying rent, but they should also include a “reconstructive part,” specifically improving the voting system and environmental protection efforts.

“We’re the only country in the world that’s taken on crisis and come out stronger for it,” Biden said. “We have an opportunity, Chris, to do so many things now to change some of the structural things that are wrong. Some of the structural things we couldn’t get anybody’s attention on. In a sense, no pun intended, the band-aid has been ripped off here.”

Biden also described his Monday phone call with President Donald Trump, during which they discussed the response to pandemic.

Biden said he shared his suggestions on how the country could better address the crisis including fully implementing the Defense Production Act, naming a supply commander to oversee the process and extending the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Biden said he and Trump had “a good conversation,” and that the president was “very gracious” during the call. Biden declined to provide more specifics, explaining that Trump had asked the details of the call to remain private.

Earlier, Trump said they had a “very nice and friendly talk” that lasted about 15 minutes.

“The call went really well,” Trump said, adding that he and Biden had agreed “that we weren’t going to talk about what we said.”

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