It’s bittersweet irony that the facts don’t matter-types have turned into a semi-coherent force demanding a return to business as usual.
Our Dear Leader, who by all accounts doesn’t understand how the economy functions, thinks reopening the country provides his best chance at getting re-elected. Meanwhile, the cast of characters getting blamed for the combination of short-sightedness and the pandemic grows.
I have not heard any accounts of the illuminati or space aliens being cast as the villians of this virus, but, rest assured, it’s coming.
Corporations, hedge funds, big banks, and billionaire bros all know jumpstarting business/social norms are stupid ideas.
The big name business executives recruited to advise the administration -many of whom learned about their participation via news reports- used a group phone call on Wednesday to say they weren’t playing along with the let’s get ‘er open game until such time as testing was ramped up.
Here’s Kerry Eleveld at Daily Kos with backstory::
- The White House first announced the members of Trump’s business council on Monday—a who’s who of usual suspects, like daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. After people pretty much laughed at the lineup, Trump decided to revamp and substantially expand the council to include, well, basically executives from every business you’ve ever heard of. In fact, at Tuesday’s White House coronavirus briefing, Trump reintroduced what he’s calling the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups. Then he spent about 10 minutes reading off “dozens and dozens and dozens of names,” as Politico put it.
- Part of the mind-bending expansion seems to be an effort by the White House to insulate Trump from criticism if he pushes to reopen the economy too soon and coronavirus cases spike again. So Trump is clearly widening the circle in order to set up a giant sphere of scapegoats in case he blows it all over again.
- Interestingly, the business council members who joined the first of four phone calls Trump conducted on Wednesday clearly weren’t interested in taking the blame for his incompetence. Though no target dates for reopening the economy were discussed on the call, Trump is fixated on May 1 and has basically decided that’s the date. But executives from the banking, financial services, hospitality, retail and food and beverage industries were reportedly very clear—U.S. testing levels are still far too inadequate to seriously consider easing social distancing yet.
I have no doubt these executives have seen the reports from the International Monetary Fund and others showing the additional economic damage likely to occur with a premature easing of social distancing restrictions.
The New York Times says another concern expressed to the president was the probability of massive lawsuits brought by employees against companies deemed to have been told to work in a non-safe environment.
After all, the wealthy are not suffering financially from the economic showdown. Public Citizen listed the increases in wealth over the past week for seven of the nation’s one percenters:
- Jeff Bezos: +$6.8B
- Mark Zuckerberg: +$6.2B
- Warren Buffett: +$5B
- Elon Musk: +$4.2B
- Larry Ellison: +$4B
- Larry Page: +$3.6B
- Bill Gates: +$3.6B
And while Americans wait for their paltry stimulus checks, the Guardian reports there’s a huge benefit for the wealthy tucked into the relief package passed by congress. The provision was inserted into the legislation by Senate Republicans:
- Millionaires and billionaires are set to reap more than 80% of the benefits from a change to the tax law Republicans put in the coronavirus economic relief package, according to a non-partisan congressional committee.
- The change – which alters what certain business owners are allowed to deduct from their taxes – will allow some of the nation’s wealthiest to avoid nearly $82bn of tax liability in 2020.
This “reopen America” bs is all about protecting the re-election prospects of Donald J Trump.
There are reports this morning saying the administration has screwed up even the one time payments, with many who filed taxes through a third party (Turbotax or HR Block, for instance) not on the list for electronic transfers. Those waiting for paper checks will get another delay, as a last minute decision to add President Trump’s name to the checks has delayed printing.
Fox News types have been doing their best to gin up a “grass roots” response in support of the president.
Dr. Oz just made the argument that we should reopen schools because *only* 2-3% of kids will die.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) April 16, 2020
That’s 6.5 million to 11.5 million dead Americans, by the way. It’s not the kids (who aren’t particularly vulnerable but can spread the virus) that would be endangered by reopening schools, it’s the teachers, parents, grandparents, and everybody who comes into contact with them that would die horribly alone, gasping for air.
And the still-functioning parts of the U.S. Government knows there is a big problem coming down the pike.
WaPo: Leaked draft CDC and FEMA plan warns of ‘significant risk of resurgence of the virus’ with phased reopening, warns of a “large rebound curve” of novel coronavirus cases if mitigation efforts are relaxed too quickly https://t.co/9VaXtSUCWp
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 15, 2020
As if by magic, a movement of deplorables has emerged around the country, demanding an end to the shut down.
National polling by Gallup shows that the vast majority (70%) of Americans are on board with waiting to make sure it’s safe(r) before venturing out in the world around them.
Leading the pack of those who think it’s desirable to re-open now are Republicans, and less than one third of them like the idea.
In Michigan and other state capitals on Wednesday, there were demonstrations aimed at politicians (mostly Democrats, by the way) deemed responsible for stay at home orders.
In Lansing, a caravan including vehicles waving Confederate and Re-elect Trump flags blocked the entrance to the emergency room at a hospital even after pleas from physicians to let ambulances through. A group of armed individuals waved signs on the steps of the state capital.
No, the nonsense is here and it's the same people as it has always been, with coordinated inauthentic activity on social media platforms that make a bunch of noise about disinfo to cover the fact that they have done very little. It's the same "movement." https://t.co/xEpI8YZK4J
— Brooke Binkowski (@brooklynmarie) April 16, 2020
There were also protests in Kentucky, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Utah. Based on browsing the Facebook pages of the groups organizing these demonstrations, they include anti-vaccine advocates, conspiracy nuts, and extremists associated with the right wing debacle in Charlottesville.
We should expect protests in California soon, based on Gov. Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday of a public/private partnership to provide financial assistance to undocumented citizens.
Beneficiaries of this action comprise an estimated 10% of the state’s workforce and are heavily represented in industries from agriculture to construction. They’re not eligible for unemployment benefits, or for the stimulus package approved by Congress last month.
You know who’s not sweating his re-election chances due to the coronavirus?
South Korean President Moon Jae-in just won re-election with the biggest majority since that country transitioned to democracy in 1987.
How did they do it? Testing, testing, and more testing of the public.
President Trump hasn’t figured out how to “jump-start” testing in the United States. He’s now blaming the nation’s Governors.
Psst, Don: Excuses are for losers.
The. Stupidest. People. In. The. World.
Trump supporters fear Bill Gates wants to make a COVID-19 vaccine to secretly implant them with brain chips – https://t.co/kpyyEqPSW2
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) April 16, 2020