As a growing number of states issue “shelter in place” orders, businesses shutter and Americans everywhere are told to limit outings and practise social distancing, Donald Trump could also be having second thoughts.
For quite every week , Trump administration officials and state leaders are talking of the necessity to “bend the curve” of the coronavirus outbreak, limiting the spread of the illness to stop the American healthcare system from being overwhelmed. The steep economic toll, however, is becoming increasingly apparent.
Last week Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin predicted that US unemployment could reach 20%. On Thursday the Department of the Treasury will release last week’s new jobless claims, and therefore the numbers are bound to be within the millions. A Goldman Sachs report estimated that the nation’s gross domestic product within the second quarter could shrink by 24%, dwarfing the previous 10% record decline in 1958.
But at Monday’s White House coronavirus press conference , the president said: “America will again and shortly be open for business.”
In the late hours of Sunday night, Trump had vented his concerns.
“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN the matter ITSELF,” he tweeted, using the all-caps he reserves for matters of apparent urgency. “AT the top OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, we’ll MAKE a choice on WHICH WAY we would like TO GO!”
The 15-day period the president referenced began on 16 March, when the White House announced new Centers for Disease Control guidelines encouraging all Americans to figure from home when possible and limit gatherings of quite 10 people.
As is usually the case, the president’s tweet may are prompted by watching a segment on Fox News. On Sunday evening, host (and former advisor to then-British PM David Cameron) Steve Hilton warned that an economic collapse would itself end in avoidable deaths and other hardships – that the “cure” might be worse than the “disease”.
“Our upper class and their TV mouthpieces whipping up fear over this virus, they will afford an indefinite shutdown,” Hilton said. “Working Americans can’t. They’ll be crushed by it.”
Trump’s faithful could also be inching back to the view they held a couple of weeks ago, that the virus is getting used by the president’s political enemies to wreck his political standing by damaging the economy.
On Monday morning the president continued on this theme, with a flurry of retweets of accounts (some with only a couple of hundred followers) who were calling for Americans to be allowed to return to figure after the 15-day period ended.
Former top Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn also joined the chorus, albeit somewhat obliquely.
“Is it time to start out discussing the necessity for a date when the economy can turn back on?” he asked on Twitter. “Policymakers have taken bold public health and economic actions to deal with the coronavirus, but businesses need clarity. Otherwise they’re going to assume the worst and make decisions to survive.”