It’s not just you who was less than impressed by Donald Trump’s performance today at a White House press conference to announce the latest developments in the United States’ efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic that is rapidly spreading across an obviously unprepared and panicked nation.
Despite announcing that the Federal Reserve had made an emergency decision to cut interest rates for the second time in less than two weeks — slashing rates a full percentage point to practically nothing and echoing the types of desperate actions last taken during the 2008 Republican-induced financial meltdown — the futures market for U.S. stocks fell precipitously, indicating that savvy investors were unimpressed with the Trump administration’s ability to constrain the damage that the virus would cause to the economy no matter how cheap credit has become.
Dow Future plunges 840 after Fed's second emergency rate cut points as Trump says market should be 'thrilled' at Fed's surprise rate cut. pic.twitter.com/vXzFgh7tEQ
— Holger Zschaepitz (@Schuldensuehner) March 15, 2020
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Many Americans were outraged over Trump’s apparent greater concern for financial markets than for the health and well-being of they and their families, as Trump seemed more interested in dropping the names of corporate executives as he struggled to overcome the creeping realization by much of the nation that his weeks of inaction and his firing of the National Security Council’s pandemic response team two years ago have led us to a much greater crisis than we would have otherwise faced.
Anyone foolish enough to be looking for empathy from the president for their sudden precarious physical and economic outlook instead faced a scolding over their panic hoarding of essential food and personal care items from the president who, after speaking with grocery company executives on Sunday afternoon, made the unprecedented request to Americans to stop buying so much stuff.
“You don’t have to buy so much. Just take it easy,” Trump said, saying that grocery stores will “have to stay open,” and that there’s “no need for anybody in the country to hoard essential food supplies.”
“Relax. We’re doing great. It all will pass,” he added.
Trump’s attempts at reassurance were seen by many as another ploy to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic and his own administration’s failure to take swift measures to contain the disease.
After Trump yielded the podium to Vice President Mike Pence who he’s appointed to coordinate the federal government response to the crisis, the announcement that many more tests would become available in the next week and that the elderly and infirm who are at higher risk of perishing should they contract the virus would get priority in receiving them came as welcome news.
However, even with the new test kits arriving this week, the number available will only be enough for a fraction of the U.S. population and will likely reveal that the number of people already infected has been vastly underestimated due to the lack of testing possible during the crucial early weeks of the coronavirus’ spread.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a rare voice of credibility and reason in the Trump administration throughout the crisis, was one of the only people willing to give the American people a fair assessment of what lies ahead for them in the weeks ahead.
“The worst is yet ahead for us,” he told reporters.
Perhaps at this point, it’s worth reminding readers that it didn’t have to be this way.
A more competent president who focused on governing rather than political gamesmanship and who believed scientists, rather than dismissing them as alarmist conspiracy mongers, would have acted more quickly to ensure that testing was available earlier and that the contagion from the virus was more limited.
A more compassionate president — and Senate — would have ensured that every American had access to affordable health care rather than trying to destroy the already limited coverage now available through Obamacare that’s better than any proposed alternative plan put forth by Republicans who are still suing to remove coverage of pre-existing conditions, Trump’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.
Those of us who make it out of this pandemic alive will have a strong incentive to vote in November.
Let’s not forget the anxiety and fear we are experiencing now — and how Trump’s failures exacerbated the situation — when we make our choice for our next leader.