Most Politicians Are Disingenuous Opportunists. The Coronavirus Outbreak Only Makes That More Obvious.
One month and one day ago, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to declare that the COVID-19 outbreak was “very much under control in the USA.”
“Stock market starting to look very good to me!” the president declared.
Since then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost about 25 percent of its value—and that’s after a significant uptick on Tuesday. Also, the COVID-19 outbreak is very much not under control in the United States, as you’ve probably noticed.
A few weeks before the president sent that tweet, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were given a classified briefing about the coronavirus. Sen. Richard Burr (R–N.C.), the chairman of the committee, immediately sold more than $1.7 million in stocks. Publicly, however, he downplayed the threat posed by the virus. “The United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus,” Burr wrote in an op-ed for Fox News on February 7—though he reportedly delivered a much more alarming message to a small circle of friends and campaign donors around the same time.
After weeks of dismissing the pandemic as no biggie, Trump was suddenly taking the outbreak more seriously by the first week of March. “There is no testing kit shortage, nor has there ever been,” the president assured Americans while he took a televised tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on March 6. “Anybody that wants a test can get one.”
That wasn’t true. And when it became too obviously untrue for even Trump to deny, the president said, “I don’t take responsibility at all,” when asked about the very-obvious-and-quite-alarming lack of testing kits on March 13.
With millions of Americans out of work and the country facing the prospect of a recession unlike any in recorded history, Congress got to work on a stimulus package that was supposed to tide workers over until the virus passed and the economy reopened. Partisan disagreement sank a Senate coronavirus bailout bill on Monday, so Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) rode to the rescue with
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