Bright laid out the multiple failings of the administration — pushing discredited drug cures, refusing to plan ahead for production and purchase of masks, etc. Worse still, the administration has no “single point of leadership right now for this response, and we don’t have a master plan for this response.” In fairness, there is a single point: Trump.
The bad news is that Trump’s contribution is wholly negative: Modeling bad behavior (refusing to wear a mask); cheering irresponsible action (e.g., a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that sent Wisconsinites flocking to crowded bars and restaurants); lying about the sufficiency of our testing program; heaping scorn on Anthony S. Fauci for suggesting that schools might not be able to throw open their doors in the fall; and hawking a discredited cure, hydroxychloroquine, which his own Food and Drug Administration has warned Americans not to take for this purpose.
Bright also raised doubts about the notion we will have a vaccine within 12 to 18 months. Perhaps he is unduly pessimistic, but his warning reminds us that there is no guarantee we will “prevail” in either testing or in rushing through a vaccine. Put simply, the health crisis is likely to go on much longer than Trump officials insist. (Remember Jared Kushner declared victory and said we’d be firing on all cylinders in June?)
Federal Reserve officials certainly are not predicting a quick solution, which means the economy will not spring back as Trump keeps insisting. Neel Kashkari, the Minneapolis Fed president, said on CBS News on Thursday, “If this is a slow recovery, the way I think it is — I think we’re in this for months, a year, 18 months — there are going to be a lot of families that are going to need direct financial assistance.” He added, “I think a V–shaped recovery is off the table.”
If Trump’s evaluations of the virus and the economy are badly out of whack — a safe bet — then House Democrats’ argument for the so-called Heroes Act on which they will vote Friday takes on added weight. In a letter, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told her members, “The Heroes Act delivers the strong, urgent response that this crisis requires: funding a science-based path to reopening the economy with testing, tracing and treatment, honoring our heroes with robust funding for state, local, tribal and territorial entities and hazard pay and putting more money in the pockets of workers and families.”
During her weekly news conference, Pelosi quoted Bright (just as she had previously invoked the Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome H. Powell). “Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities,” Bright said. “Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history.” Bright (and Pelosi) have that one right. Now it is time to convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that there is “urgency” to act.
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