If only New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) could be every state’s governor. He has a knack for cutting through the nonsense and explaining to the country and the White House how President Trump is failing to save lives. In case you had questions about the Defense Production Act (which Trump still does not understand as he tells the states to buy their own equipment) here is Cuomo’s tutorial:

Trump bypassed his White House press briefing for a town hall on Fox News, where his blatant untruths (e.g. claiming the death rate for the 1918 flu epidemic was 50 percent) and arbitrary declarations (open the country by Easter!) went unchallenged. (Disclosure: I’m a MSNBC contributor.) Certainly, he was not quizzed about weeks spent giving false assurances to Americans that left us unprepared for the onslaught.

Trump continues to show disdain for ordinary Americans by insisting everyone get out of the house and back to work despite, as The Post reports, “warnings from public health experts that the restrictions may need to stay in place for weeks.”

Perhaps he knows he is once more selling snake oil but thinks he can talk up the markets and claim credit. (He does not seem to consider people might take his advice and endanger them and their families.) Alternatively, he may know that governors have no intention of lifting their restrictions, so he is setting up a fight between him and them. As deranged as it might seem, Trump’s followers may not realize he favors economic productivity (which is impossible with a rampant virus) over saving lives.

Trump’s notion that we are on the verge of getting back to normal is “deluding” himself, as conservative economist Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute puts it. In addition to Trump’s inability to countermand state orders, Strain points out, “Many people are frightened about the virus, and Trump won’t be able to assuage those concerns. Because we are worried about catching the coronavirus, my family wouldn’t go to a crowded restaurant for dinner tonight regardless of what the president might say. Would Trump be able to convince you to go to a movie theater or a concert?” Nor can Trump restart economic activity, Strain notes, since many of us have cancelled plans, workers have been furloughed and factories closed. He adds that while Trump may think he is talking up the economy, his words may have the opposite result:

Many people would ignore Trump’s directive to restart economic life, but not all would. And if the premature resumption of economic activity resulted in significant public health consequences — more cases, more deaths, hospitals more overwhelmed — by allowing the coronavirus to spread further and faster, the president will have lost control.
An even more dire public health crisis would bring a much more severe and lengthy economic downturn. And a more dire public health crisis brought on in part by the president’s decision to reopen the economy too early would have even worse economic consequences because the government would have lost the credibility to inform Americans about the virus.

However, if Trump actually intends to cheer everyone out of their homes and pressure states and businesses to get back in gear, would he be willing to set the example? Would he visit the homes and shake the hands of workers, the vast majority of whom are not tested? Would he eat in office and factory cafeterias? Would he eat at a crowded restaurant?

The irony, of course, is that Trump is a germophobe and even in normal times has an abnormal aversion to being around those who sneeze or cough. But if he’s unwilling to venture into public himself, perhaps he shouldn’t suggest others do so.

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