In a time of real emergency, the Republicans are spinning the pandemic and the collapse of the economy to further their own power and wealth. The needs of the people are their last concern. In short, the Republicans are gaming the pandemic.
Much of the information in this post comes from a New York Times editorial by Paul Krugman. Links to Krugman’s article and other supporting articles are at the bottom of this page.
Here is Paul Krugman’s quick summary of how Republicans are gaming the pandemic.
“If you want a quick summary of the state of play over fiscal stimulus legislation, here it is: Republicans insist that we should fight a plague with trickle-down economics and crony capitalism. Democrats, for some reason, don’t agree, and think we should focus on directly helping Americans in need.”
There is now a Senate Republican bill in congress that is supposedly going to end the huge economic crash going on in the US. Something clearly does need to be done. Stock markets are down at least 20%, unemployment is on its way up to 20% or more and the American people are hurting.
The economic crash is happening mostly because companies are closing and many employees are staying at home to evade the pandemic. Right now our most urgent priority is to fight the pandemic by isolating everyone, workers included. We can’t fix the economy until we fix the pandemic.
Let’s look for a minute at why we have to stop the pandemic before we can fix the economy. Why this is our first priority.
The only way to stop the pandemic is to socially isolate people. Epidemiologists say that if we can do this, the pandemic will slow down to practically nothing and we will be able to get back to something like normal in 3 or 4 months. This worked in China and in Korea and several other countries. But it won’t happen in the US unless everyone with non-essential jobs goes home and stays there.
Dr Ezekiel J Emanuel says all of this in his article, “Fourteen Days. That’s the Most Time We Have to Defeat Coronavirus.” He says that we have very little time to get this pandemic under control. He says that if we can implement very severe tactics for restraining the pandemic, on the scale that China did, “our death toll could be under 100,000. Within three to four months we might be able to begin a return to more normal lives.”
Dr Emanuel goes on to say that if this social distancing isn’t done immediately, within 14 days at most, our death toll will be much higher. As many as 2.2 million Americans will very likely die. He says that:
Models from Imperial College London and others suggest that up to 2.2 million Americans could die within a year without sufficient efforts to “flatten the curve.”
Flattening the curve refers to isolating people from each other in an attempt to flatten the peak of the epidemic and cause it to play out over a longer period of time. This would give hospitals and doctors time to treat all patients that get sick. But, if the epidemic peaks very quickly, many people will have to be abandoned; there will not be enough doctors or ventilators or time to treat them.
The best article about how we can stop the pandemic through social isolation is one in the New York Time called “The Virus can be stopped, but only with harsh steps, experts say.”
But there are some big downsides to social distancing. For American workers, it often means staying home, losing their jobs and running out of money. And many people have no choice about staying home. They have to say home to take care of their kids who have been sent home from school.
Instead of helping American workers survive this temporary isolation, the Republicans and Trump are cooking up a 2.2 trillion dollar plan to fix the recession by a huge giveaway of money to big corporation and the very wealthy. Workers are to be given a small amount, a pittance compared to what corporations would get.
The recession that is gathering steam right now is very real. It must be dealt with at some time. But this recession is different from the normal recession that is mostly caused by a loss of demand, ie consumers and companies holding on to their money instead of spending it. This kind of a recession can often be fixed by injecting a large amount of money into the economy. But injecting money will not fix this pandemic driven economic collapse.
Here is an article by Robert Kuttner that says this pretty conclusively: This stimulus bill will not save the economy from collapse.
What is causing this recession is not a loss of demand. The cause of this recession is the several million jobs being lost every week. The economy is shutting down: restaurants, entertainment venues and many other establishments have been closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Pumping money into the economy, especially into the pockets of big corporations like the Republicans want to do, is not going to fix this situation. The only thing that will fix this economic problem is to first end the rapid spread of the Corona virus and then to repair the economy. The time to inject money is after the virus is on the run.
At this point, in the middle of the pandemic, what we need to do most immediately is to take care of all those workers staying at home trying to take care of their families with no payroll coming in. These people are in desperate need and it’s going to get much worse very rapidly.
Again, what we don’t need to be doing is pumping trillions of dollars into the pockets of the very rich and the big corporations. This is just the Republicans doing their usual, exploiting the situation to increase their own wealth and power. There is little doubt that Republicans are gaming the pandemic.
As Krugman says:
We neither can nor should bring those lost jobs back until the pandemic has faded. What this tells us is that right now our highest priority isn’t job creation, it’s disaster relief: giving families and small businesses that have lost their incomes enough money to afford necessities while the shutdown lasts. Oh, and providing generous aid to hospitals, clinics and other health care providers in this time of incredible stress.
The bad part of the Republican’s bill is a $500 billion slush fund “for corporations that the Trump administration could allocate at its discretion, with essentially no oversight.” This is what is really stopping the bill from passing.
Krugman says this is a terrible idea, we have seen Trump in action before and we know what to expect from him. Krugman says that,
Remember, we’ve had more than three years to watch this administration in action. We’ve seen Trump refuse to disclose anything about his financial interests, amid abundant evidence that he is profiting at the public’s expense. Trump’s trade war has been notable for the way in which favored companies somehow manage to get tariff exemptions while others are denied. And as you read this, Trump is refusing to use his authority to require production of essential medical gear.
We need to also remember that in 2017 Republicans pushed through a huge corporate tax cut, which they assured us would lead to higher wages and surging business investment. None of these things happened; instead, corporations basically used the money to buy back their own stock. Why would this time be any different?
It would obviously be unwise to expect Trump to allocate huge sums fairly and in the public interest.
We have learned this from the past. We know that Republicans almost never help the people. They sometimes say they are doing so, but it always turns out that their help is not real. Mostly, they only help themselves and their cronies. It looks very much like the same thing is happening again. And again and again and again as it always seems to do. Republicans are gaming the pandemic, as usual.
Hopefully the Democrats will be able to hold out and prevent this awful bill from passing. It is said that the Democrates are currently putting together their own bill to help the people who are really in need.
It pretty clear to me that Republicans are gaming the pandemic.
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