Cramer praises Trump for involving private sector in coronavirus response: 'This is real firepower'

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CNBC’s Jim Cramer praised President Donald Trump’s latest response to the coronavirus outbreak on Friday, calling the private sector involvement “a very big deal.” 

“These are real companies, and they want to do something about it,” Cramer said on “Closing Bell.” “This is not a bunch of bureaucrats who are saying, ‘We ought to do something.’ This is real firepower. I think it can matter.” 

Among the CEOs who joined Trump at his Rose Garden speech, during which he declared a national emergency, were Target‘s Brian Cornell and Walmart‘s Doug McMillon.

Walmart, for example, would be making portions of its parking lots available for drive-through testing stations, said McMillon, who added the retailer was “eager to do our part to help serve the country.” 

Google also is developing a dedicated website to help people obtain information around coronavirus testing, government officials said. 

Cramer, who has been critical of the U.S. government’s response to the global pandemic, said he knows people will be cynical about the private sector’s involvement. But he argued the companies did not take the decision to get involved lightly. 

“I do think a lot of these companies weren’t aware they were going to be pulled in even 48 hours ago. But they did come in,” Cramer said, arguing the NBA’s decision Wednesday to indefinitely suspend its season was likely the moment that catalyzed such a response. 

The stock market soared to session highs during Trump’s speech, which began with about a half-hour of trading remaining. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1,985 points higher, or 9.36%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained 9.29% and 9.35%, respectively. 

Trump said he anticipated the U.S. would have 1.4 million coronavirus test kits available within a week and around 5 million kits within the next month. He also announced he would be waiving all interest on federal student loans, allowing borrowers who are facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus to pause payments without penalty. 

Cramer said there is still a lot more the government needs to do to address the coronavirus outbreak, stressing the need for Congress to agree on fiscal stimulus measures to ensure help for workers and small businesses affected by the economic slowdown. 

“Without the fiscal side, what’s going to happen is a lot of people are going to lose their jobs,” Cramer said. “They’re going to go to Walmart for the parking lot [coronavirus test] and won’t be able to shop at the Walmart.”

But, for the moment, he said he was encouraged by the latest steps in the U.S. response. 

“The cynics out there who hate the president or whatever, I don’t think you should hate a Doug McMillon. You shouldn’t hate a Brian Cornell,” Cramer said. “These people are serious.” 

“They don’t donate, they don’t do these kinds of things unless they’re really called upon, so I salute them,” Cramer added. “I think that business is the greatest source of social change.” 

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