All that remains from Trump is virtue signaling: ignore deaths, go back to work, you’ll be a warrior, and we’ll give you a flyover.
The fundamental problem, as former Obama administration health official Andy Slavitt outlines in a powerful new thread, is that the current response is trapped in a fallacy. Trump has decided that reopening the economy is such an urgent priority that nothing can be permitted to delay it.
But the economy can’t reopen until the health crisis is wrestled down to a greater extent, precisely because people won’t feel safe to resume economic activities.
As Slavitt asks: “Without a credible plan to address the public health crisis, tell me how consumers start buying cars, small businesses sign leases & employers start hiring?”This would involve standing up a much more robust federal testing and tracing program, as health expert Tom Frieden and many others have already explained.
But Trump isn’t willing to do this — even though some of his own officials want him to.
As CNN’s Jake Tapper reports, officials in Trump’s own government and on his coronavirus task force are urging him to “take the lead on an ambitious national testing program,” so “society can responsibly take steps to reopen.”
But, Tapper continues, Trump “so far has rebuffed those suggestions,” and is “opting instead to listen to voices” who think the private sector will generate enough testing supplies on its own, and are “eager to reopen the economy, at least partly motivated to boost the president’s reelection.”
And yet, if the economy isn’t going to reopen in the manner Trump himself wants until he stands up a much more robust testing program, why not do the latter?
Trump himself hinted at the answer to this question, when he said on Wednesday: “In a way, by doing all this testing we make ourselves look bad.”
Whatever Trump precisely meant by that remark, it’s increasingly obvious that he has decided that creating the illusion that the economy is reopening gives him a better shot at getting reelected than taking actual steps to do so safely does.
For Trump, the timeline is all-controlling, and that timeline is an unforgiving one.
After all, reality is looking pretty grisly right now. We just learned that the ranks of those who have filed jobless claims have swelled to 33 million.
And while many states are taking steps to reopen, as Trump wants them to, this is what’s going on with the coronavirus in them:
In more than half of states easing restrictions, case counts are trending upward, positive test results are rising, or both.
The bottom line is that it’s going to take an extraordinary effort at all levels of government and society to get us relatively safely back to normalcy, if there even is such a thing anymore.
For Trump’s purposes, that will not just require launching greater efforts for which he might be held accountable, as is often pointed out. It will also take too long.
Trump needs people to believe the economy and health crises are getting turned around, and he needs it to happen in time for November. Whether this actually happens is largely irrelevant to him.
2) And in the meantime, Trump is trying to keep the number of official dead artificially down by refusing to ramp up testing, and by the latest games Dr Birx is playing with the CDC.3) The problem for Trump is that it’s very hard to hide, or spin, a dead body. If large numbers of Americans die, or get deathly ill, between now and the election, people are going to know it, you can’t hide it.4) Even worse for Trump, his lies about it being safe to reopen, amplified by Fox News and the GOP cult, and the overall gop messaging that wearing a mask is somehow gay, means GOP voters are going to bear particularly at risk this year. That could mean Trump gets his base killed5) And Trump’s base is dumb as a brick, but once their own people start dying, it’s hard to spin those deaths away. So, I don’t understand what Trump is doing, other than a Hail Mary by which he hopes to postpone mass death until after the election.6) And Trump could get lucky. Maybe the virus will go away for the next six months. But I don’t think so. And the experts don’t think so. As i said before, it’s hard to spin a dead body.
Goldman Sachs (which has a good economics research shop) has new economic forecasts. They are now predicting the unemp rate will average 25% in Q2. Given the unemp rate was 14.7% in April, that means they are projecting the unemployment rate will *average* 30.15% in May and June.— Heidi Shierholz (@hshierholz) May 13, 2020
Russian state TV:— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) May 13, 2020
"Trump is a weak leader—and that is great for Russia. It’s also good for China.”
Trump’s re-election would provide a bouquet of benefits for the Kremlin and Biden’s considerably higher poll numbers are discussed with concern in Russia.https://t.co/01jrtMM7S3
An Upper Macungie Township distribution center that has restricted outside visitors since January is scheduled to welcome President Donald Trump on Thursday. https://t.co/TzmgEhH8Jm— The Morning Call (@mcall) May 13, 2020