Robert Reich tells the truth in an op-ed at the Guardian: Trump wants you to choose between your job or your life — because work makes you free.
Trump’s hope of timing a “re-opened economy” to victory is that any second wave of COVID infection will carry him through the election with some promise of a vaccine and concurrent herd immunity. The wager unfortunately is about death rate.
Trump and the GOP have shown that it intends to play red states against blue states where the electoral college ensures a victory despite vote totals. Then there will be ensuing uneven treatment and mitigation in a second wave. There then will be a higher death toll that the GOP wants to include in the cost of choosing “freedom”.
Any rush to reopen without adequate testing and tracing – far more than now under way – will cause a resurgence of the disease and another and longer economic crisis.
Maybe Trump is betting that any resurgence will occur after the election, when the economy appears to be on the road to recovery.
The first responsibility of a president is to keep the public safe. But Donald Trump couldn’t care less. He was slow to respond to the threat, then he lied about it, then made it hard for states – especially those with Democratic governors – to get the equipment they need.
Now he’s trying to force the economy to reopen in order to boost his electoral chances this November, and he’s selling out Americans’ health to seal the deal. This is beyond contemptible.
Step 1 Remove income support, so people have no choice but to return to work.
Trump’s labor department has decided that furloughed employees “must accept” an employer’s offer to return to work and therefore forfeit unemployment benefits, regardless of Covid-19.
Step 2 Hide the facts.
No one knows how many Americans are infected because the Trump administration continues to drag its heels on testing. To date only 6.5m tests have been completed in a population of more than 200 million adults.
Step 3 Pretend it’s about “freedom”.
Making this about “freedom” is absurd. Freedom is meaningless for people who have no choice but to accept a job that risks their health.
Step 4 Shield businesses against lawsuits for spreading the infection.
Trump is pushing to give businesses that reopen a “liability shield” against legal action by workers or customers who get infected by the virus.
Someday we’ll get to see Kevin Hassett’s econometric model that sacrifices untold lives, much like the youthful indiscretion of his book prior to the 2000 stock crash.
Trump tried to manage the perception of his performance by holding daily, hours-long press briefings that confused and repelled large swaths of the country. As the death toll mounted, the briefings became less about providing critical health information and more a forum for Trump to air grievances, shift blame, stoke feuds, spread misinformation and inspire false hope.
“This is a historically new challenge, and we’ve really risen to the occasion,” Kushner said in an interview. “When history looks back on this, they’ll say, man, the federal government acted really quickly and creatively, they threw a lot at the problem and saved a lot of lives.”
The epidemiological models under review in the White House Situation Room in late March were bracing. In a best-case scenario, they showed the novel coronavirus was likely to kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. President Trump was apprehensive about so much carnage on his watch, yet also impatient to reopen the economy — and he wanted data to justify doing so.
So the White House considered its own analysis. A small team led by Kevin Hassett — a former chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers with no background in infectious diseases — quietly built an econometric model to guide response operations.
Many White House aides interpreted the analysis as predicting that the daily death count would peak in mid-April before dropping off substantially, and that there would be far fewer fatalities than initially foreseen, according to six people briefed on it.
Although Hassett denied that he ever projected the number of dead, other senior administration officials said his presentations characterized the count as lower than commonly forecast — and that it was embraced inside the West Wing by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and other powerful aides helping to oversee the government’s pandemic response. It affirmed their own skepticism about the severity of the virus and bolstered their case to shift the focus to the economy, which they firmly believed would determine whether Trump wins a second term.
For Trump — whose decision-making has been guided largely by his reelection prospects — the analysis, coupled with Hassett’s grim predictions of economic calamity, provided justification to pivot to where he preferred to be: cheering an economic revival rather than managing a catastrophic health crisis.
Trump directed his coronavirus task force to issue guidelines for reopening businesses, encouraged “LIBERATE” protests to apply pressure on governors and proclaimed that “the cure can’t be worse than the problem itself” — even as polls showed that Americans were far more concerned about their personal safety.
Hassett’s data analysis helped affirm this view internally. Hassett said he merely built a tool to evaluate the evolution of data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. He confirmed that he shared his charts internally and that they often showed fewer deaths than IHME or others were projecting — but that he was drawing a curve based on real-time mortality data versus what the charts predicted would happen for the same days.
“I have never, ever said that that’s my projection of what the death count was going to be, and no administration policy has been influenced by my projections,” he said, adding, “It’s an utterly false story that I’ve been a rosy-scenario guy inside the White House.”
The fact that the WH brought in economist Kevin Hassett (who authored "Dow 36,000" right before the stock crash of 2000) to write a "better" model to predict course of Coronavirus would be hilarious if it wasn't tragic https://t.co/1L7TZBSOC2— Tim Wu (@superwuster) May 3, 2020
Pelosi, Schumer reject liability limit for companies that reopen https://t.co/lj1Qv0iD7N— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) May 3, 2020
“She called Trump ‘the most incompetent, foolhardy buffoon imaginable.’ And she’s shocked that America isn’t in a position to lead the global response to this crisis, in part because science and scientists have been so degraded under Trump.” https://t.co/V8PQ9lkLIf— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) May 2, 2020