Will more tax cuts do anything to help with a possible pandemic or to reassure the markets that everything is okay? Absolutely not. But if impeached president Donald Trump thinks that maybe they’ll keep his approval numbers from tanking, then the White House is going to float it. That’s what the Washington Post is hearing from “five people with knowledge of the planning.” Because it’s all about the economy and his reelection for Trump. The lifesaving part simply seems not to have occurred to him.
In addition to “a targeted tax cut,” the sources told the Post the White House team is looking at pushing the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, something the Fed has already said it is considering. This is what happens when the global pandemic response team includes Larry Kudlow, who says “I just don’t think anybody ought to panic right now. We’re going to stay the course on our policies.” Which is pretty much the best reason for rational people to panic, considering policy for Trump means tax cuts. Oh, and budget cuts, including to the entire public health infrastructure which seems to continue to be the course the White House intends to stay.
This just reinforces the general ineptitude of the Trump team, which is woefully inadequate to begin with. The White House is sidelining the actual experts and trotting out the likes of Mick Mulvaney to downplay the threat. That’s with Trump in the background doing his raging elephant routine. It was Trump’s rage at how the crisis was being handled, CNN reports, that led to the absolute debacle of his incoherent press conference on Wednesday.
That was organized on the fly, CNN reports, and with no guidance from Trump. “By 4:30 pm, the jet-lagged President had only just come down to the Oval Office from the residence, and to the assembled officials who were there, it was still unclear what he intended to say at the news conference, which was just two hours away, said one senior Republican who was in the White House.” That included who was going to lead up the response team, with Trump deciding on Pence “shortly before the news conference” which “came as a shock to [Health Secretary Alex] Azar, according to a senior Republican official.”
That Trump is entirely focused on the economic impact and the stock market may not be entirely his fault, except that the people who he chooses to surround himself with have been trying “to impress upon him the seriousness of the coronavirus situation, warning him of the threat to the global economy and—by proxy—his reelection prospects, according to people familiar with the conversations.” Meanwhile, the agency officials actually responsible for trying to save lives complain of chaos and indecision. That means scattered and cursory information sharing and “a breakdown in communication that has led to bursts of outrage by the President, who has complained he’s been kept out of the loop on key decisions regarding potentially infected Americans returning to the US.”
In other words, the situation is your worst nightmare of what a global pandemic would look like with Trump as president.