On Monday evening the Trump administration sent a request to Congress for an additional $2.5 billion to fight the Coronavirus. But it may already be too little and too late.
Around $1 billion of the request would be spent on vaccine development while the rest would go toward stockpiling protective equipment like masks.
Why the sudden interest in protecting the American people? Well, it isn’t really about the people at all. It is likely all about the markets. Is it a coincidence that the Dow fell 1,000 points on Monday, and on Tuesday Trump is looking for $2.5 billion hand-out?
Too little too late
Lawmakers slammed the request as incompetent and insufficient. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said:
“Despite urgent warnings from Congress and the public health community, the Trump administration took weeks to request these emergency funds.”
“It is profoundly disturbing that their answer now is to raid money Congress has designated for other critical public health priorities. Worse still, their overall request still falls short of what is needed for an effective, comprehensive government-wide response.”
‘Would go away by April’
In fact, Trump’s response so far has been utterly complacent.
In January he told CNBC it was “totally under control” and everything would be “just fine” despite knowing little about the virus.
Then he claimed the Coronavirus would “miraculously” go away by April thanks to the heat, which had no basis in fact. That claim was contradicted by the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Then the Washington Post revealed that the State Department flew home passengers it knew were infected—against the CDC’s strict advice—along with uninfected passengers.
The Trump administration’s decision to ignore the CDC helped double the U.S. cases bringing the total up to 34—so far. Axios reports that 18 of those confirmed cases were passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise.
Jefferies investment bank doesn’t seem to think it will be going away by April either. Its equity strategist Simon Powell sent a note to the bank’s clients on Tuesday morning warning that a “large USA community-based outbreak is increasingly likely.”
A spike of coronavirus in the United States would take a “hefty toll,” Powell said.
“Our base case hypothesis is that a Trump government is unlikely to choose reduced economic activity, and supply chain disruption, so spread of the virus, if it were to emerge in the US, would be more likely.”
While the bank didn’t put a specific number on the economic fallout, Powell did say it would “significantly rattle markets.”
‘Trump sabotaged America’s response’
The problem goes deeper.
In January, Foreign Policy magazine outlined how Trump’s deep spending cuts to the CDC and other institutions put America at risk to a pandemic.
These decisions included firing the “entire pandemic response chain of command” and shutting down the global health security unit of the NSC. Trump has not replaced either team.
Not an ‘economic tragedy’
Despite the stock market slip, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow is convinced that the outbreak will not be an “economic tragedy” only a “human” one.
He told CNBC on Tuesday that the virus was “contained” and “pretty close to air-tight.”
“There will be some stumbles. We’re looking at numbers; it’s a little iffy. But at the moment … there’s no supply disruptions out there yet.”
Perhaps, Kudlow needs to “look at the numbers” one more time because they just had the worst day in two years.
Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape! @CDCgov…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020