President Trump is eager to get the economy open again, and it may happen sooner than expected.
The president told reporters at the Rose Garden Tuesday that his administration is nearly finished with making plans for normal life to resume in some states. CNBC reported the news, a day after a conflict erupted between Trump and various governors over who has the authority to make that call. The president appeared to back away from more aggressive rhetoric at Tuesday’s briefing, saying he would not force governors’ hands on the issue.
Trump: states could open soon
In recent days, patience with “social distancing” has started to wear thin, as some 17 million Americans have lost their jobs in just a few short weeks to draconian lockdowns, even as catastrophic estimates of the death toll have failed to manifest. As the virus appears to be plateauing around the country, various states on Monday announced plans to begin discussing a pathway back to normal life.
While Trump is eager to open the economy soon, various Democratic governors have struck a more cautious tone, and the president teed off a fresh clash with them Monday when he declared that he has “total authority” on the issue. The conflict continued Tuesday as Trump compared himself, appearing to relish the fight, to the captain of a mutinous ship. Notwithstanding the drama, Trump said at a press briefing Tuesday night that some 20 states were in “extremely good shape” and could open soon, perhaps sooner than May 1, his administration’s target.
“I will be speaking to all 50 governors very shortly,” Trump said. “And I will then be authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening and a very powerful reopening plan of their state at a time and in a manner as most appropriate.”
The president has said in no uncertain terms that the decision when to open the economy is the “hardest” decision he’s ever had to make, and he announced last week a second task force dedicated to the task. He was set to unveil it Tuesday, although it’s unclear when that will happen. The leader of the task force is reportedly Mark Meadows (R-NC.), his new chief of staff.
Other members include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been working furiously with Democrats on coronavirus stimulus legislation, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Labor Secretary Gene Scalia, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought.
Trump backs away from governor clash
The president’s confident predictions Tuesday sounded a more optimistic tone than Democratic governors and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump’s embattled virus expert. Dr. Fauci called Trump’s May 1 target “a bit overly optimistic” this week, as rumors swirled that his job was on the line.
Fauci has maintained that the government needs to acquire the capability to test and trace the virus before it is safe to open up again – a recommendation that some will find rational and reassuring, others maddeningly out of touch. Either way, Fauci’s thinking was evident in a six-point plan to open the economy introduced Tuesday by California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who has received fairly bipartisan praise for his handling of the pandemic.
Trump feuded with New York’s governor Cuomo on Tuesday, who compared Trump to a tyrant and vowed that he would challenge any effort by Trump to make him open New York State. In a surprising shift, Trump appeared to soften his tone somewhat at the Rose Garden.
“I’m not going to put pressure on any governor to open,” Trump said. “I’m not going to say to Gov. Cuomo you have to open within seven days.”
The experts have done a good job. Now it’s time to think about the economy as well.