We knew this was coming. It was inevitable that, when faced with a national public health crisis, Donald Trump’s team of white nationalists, ideological incompetents, and people selected for praising Donald on TV would seek to respond literally the only way they know how: with racism, tax cuts, and new propaganda campaigns.
Politico reports that Trump and team are contemplating how best to use the “opportunity” of a global pandemic to achieve Team Trump’s existing goals of “stricter border security, wider tax cuts and reduced reliance on Chinese manufacturing.” Trump’s hostility to even hearing about a new dangerous infectious disease had rendered the administration response incompetent, but now that they all feel goaded into action, the response will be to do precisely the same things they were already doing, but more so.
They are, after all, Republicans.
The plans being contemplated are, of course, the things that the authoritarian-minded Trump team either has been promising or has been trying to do all along, but that were so radical and/or illegal that even a Republican Senate willing to cover up international extortion would have never gone along with them. Trump has been threatening to “close the border,” singular; this would do absolutely nothing to stop the spread of the virus, but would allow Trump to fight on the more familiar territory of being the nation’s most vigorous xenophobe.
If anything, the inability to conduct adequate testing before the virus spread in this country may encourage other nations to restrict travel to and from us, as they have done with Iran, Italy, and other hotspots.
Trump’s Republican team was already planning another round of tax cuts, primarily as election-year campaign fodder. Now that a global pandemic appears to be making a new recession inevitable, there is a new sales pitch available for the same corporate-friendly tax cuts already being sketched out by Always Staggeringly Wrong Guy Larry Kudlow and Trump’s other supply-side dimwits. They are extremely likely, because Larry Kudlow, to provide only token help to Americans facing local shutdowns of businesses and events that provide their livelihood. They are also extremely likely, because Larry Kudlow, to make sure global conglomerates do not feel the same pain. And in any case, the tax cuts will be blowing yet another gargantuan hole in the federal budget, compounding the damage caused by Republican fiscal incompetence after yet another Democratic president patched the economy back up after yet another Republican administration put the wrecking ball to it.
As for this nation’s longstanding compulsion to outsource every scrap of manufacturing we can to lower-cost, more exploitative countries such as China: Yes, that is indeed a problem. Being reliant on China for drugs, for face masks, and for seemingly every component of everyday life turns out to have downsides, but corporations like money and don’t like rules, so here we are. The core structural reforms needed to alter those incentives will likely have to wait until a new Democratic administration asks Sen. Elizabeth Warren to send over the plan to do it.
The long and short of this is that we can expect Trump to dive headfirst into a new round of toxic, malevolent racism under the banner of solving the coronavirus problem. The White House will somehow argue that the people transmitting the virus are the exact people white nationalist Stephen Miller and his benefactor already hate, nonwhites and Muslims, and will announce new border policies targeting those groups with yet more punishment. The White House will insist that a new recession caused by Trump’s near-criminal incompetence can only be solved by a round of Republican economic incompetence.
And Trump will shout, very loudly, and he will tweet, very loudly, about how every bit of it was actually caused by his declared enemies. The man cannot change; he cannot be better than this, or smarter than this, or less narcissistic and destructive than this. Republicans have had every opportunity to remove him from office for an unending stream of incompetent and criminal behavior and have instead shored him up, either not believing or not caring that the nation was one crisis away from Trump’s incompetence getting Americans killed. They will do so again, because they cannot change either.