You can take the proprietor out of the hotel and put them in the White House, but you can’t take the hotel out of Donald Trump’s psyche.
As the nation begins a pandemic-inspired financial panic with stock markets tumbling and businesses — dependent on the free movement of goods and services and the willingness of people to leave the safety of their homes — experiencing sudden steep declines unless they happen to be selling sanitizers, disinfectants, or other valuable, hoardable commodities, the Trump administration is naturally more concerned with the economic effects that the coronavirus outbreak will have on American businesses than on its impact — both physical and financial — on the average citizen.
With the travel and tourism industries particularly hard hit, White House officials are walking a tightrope between angering the president by acknowledging the scope of the problem at hand that Trump has done everything in his limited capabilities to downplay and actually addressing the problem quickly enough to avoid a further financial meltdown that could take a heavy toll on the president’s own properties.
Since those with executive power are all Republican loyalists, the all-purpose solution of tax cuts — or deferrals, at the very least — are the first methods that they are considering to offer some relief to the cruise, travel, hospitality, and airline industries.
With business travel grinding to a halt as conventions, trade shows, and even music festivals are being canceled across the country as a precautionary measure to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Trump administration officials are signaling that they are examining proposals that could wind up personally benefiting Donald Trump if they are indeed enacted.
On Friday, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told Fox Business that the Oval Office is discussing “timely and targeted” federal assistance to help ameliorate the economic damages that the pandemic panic has wrought.
“Perhaps on a large scale, some of the sectors might need some temporary assistance,” Kudlow said, before qualifying his words by adding, “We don’t want to act prematurely.”
At a last-minute press conference today, Trump himself vowed to ask Congress to pass a payroll tax cut to help bring relief to workers earning an hourly wage — workers who are increasingly feeling vulnerable to the one form of trickle-down economic theory that actually seems to be more than a GOP talking point: that when the wealthy see their portfolios shrinking, that flood of sewage will definitely be rolling downhill real soon.
“We are going to take care of and have been taking care of the American public and the American economy,” Trump said, his credibility in tatters after the administration’s multiple missteps and his legacy of compulsive prevarication.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking after the president’s remarks, tried to reassure the public about the underlying fundamental strength of the American economy.
“The economy will be in really good shape a year from now. This is not like the financial crisis where we don’t know the end in sight. This is about providing proper tools and liquidity to get through the next few months.”
Unstated was the fact that those few months will be the time between now and the presidential election that determines whether the citizens of the United States think that Trump is the person best suited to lead the nation in times of crises like this.
Given that Trump and his Republican cohorts have weakened the nation in so many ways, including Trump’s dismantling of federal institutions that could have been mustered in this emergency, his replacement of scientific experts at federal agencies with political appointees, his decimation of the U.S. treasury through his billionaire tax cuts, and the artificial suppression of interest rates, leaving the Federal Reserve with few tools with which to counter recessionary trends, it must be comforting to the president to know that at least his hotels will get another tax break out of the chaos that his mismanagement has engendered.
It looks like it will have to be the Democrats to the rescue once again, just like after the Bush economic catastrophe that required the federal government to bail out the automobile industry.
At this point, Congress needs to pass a law requiring that anyone who votes to trust a member of the GOP with the stewardship of the American economy be tied to a chair and forced to listen to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” played on an endless loop until they get the message — “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn.”