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WATCH: Former Fed chairs urge Congress to do more to save the U.S. economy

With the economic picture bleak, former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen urged Congress to do more to help the economy deal with the devastating pandemic, such as extending increased unemployment benefits and providing assistance to hard-hit states and local governments, something many Republicans oppose.

Watch Former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen testify in the player above.

The two former Fed leaders, making their first appearances Friday before a congressional panel since leaving the central bank, praised the efforts already made by the Fed and Congress but said both should be ready to do more given the severity of the shock the economy has endured.

Democrats and Republicans on the committee clashed over the Trump administration’s response to the virus, what the next package of support should look like and whether schools should be required to re-open in the fall.

Yellen and Bernanke, in a joint statement, said the new measure should provide substantial support to state and local governments. The administration and many GOP members of Congress are arguing for spending restraint, saying the federal government should not be bailing out states.

But Yellen and Bernanke said, “The enormous loss of revenue from the recession, together with the new responsibilities imposed by the pandemic, has put state and local budgets deeply in the red.”

The two maintained Congress needs to avoid the mistakes made during the Great Recession ten years ago when state and local governments did not get adequate support, making the downturn worse and the subsequent recovery painfully slow.

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