For at least two months Donald Trump negligently ignored the mortal threat that COVID-19 (coronavirus) posed to the people of the United States and the world. He mocked its lethal consequences, dismissed its capacity to spread, and lied to the American people when he said that it was “under control” and would soon go away by itself.
Compounding his lies at the outset of the outbreak, Trump later tried to boast that he always took the threat seriously and even called it a pandemic before others were doing so. Not only is that brazenly false, it would actually be even more damning if true. It would mean that he recognized the danger early on, but failed to act.
Eventually it became impossible for Trump to pretend that there wasn’t a severe public health hazard on his hands. So he assembled a Coronavirus Task Force to address the problem, but then decided against letting them do their job. He hijacked the daily briefings and turned them into campaign events for his 2020 reelection. And our reality TV game show president assessed their value by tracking the Nielsen ratings, as if they were an indicator of his popularity. They most definitely are not.
As the fallout from the pandemic escalated, Trump noticed that it was having a negative effect on the economy. And that’s when his concern kicked into high gear. On March 4, just as the stock market began it’s historic slide, Trump floated a proposal to “reopen” the country by Easter, a date that no public health expert would endorse. By March 24, the day after the stock market had completed a decline of 11,000 points from its recent high only a month prior, he began using reckless and callous rhetoric about not allowing “the cure to be worse than the problem.” That suggests that he believes a weak economy is worse than tens of thousands of people dying.
Trump repeatedly insisted that the nation must return to business as usual within a timeline that was grossly unrealistic. The question is: Why was Trump so adamant about this? Did he really have compassion for the working people of the country who were being subjected to such brutal hardship? Was he worried about the future health of the corporations that support much of the economic infrastructure of the nation?
Doubtful. Trump has never expressed any such sympathies during his term as president or his decades in public life prior to that. It’s unlikely he had some sort of personal epiphany that altered his life-long character, or lack thereof. No, the real reason is the one that is the most obvious.
It is now being reported that Trump’s personal net worth has declined by about a billion dollars. That would represent approximately 30% of his fortune as estimated by Forbes. It’s difficult to provide a precise estimate because after three years as President, Trump still refuses to release his taxes. There must be something truly hideous in there.
Trump’s assets are predominantly in commercial and residential real estate, hotel licensing and management, and golf courses. All of these businesses are especially vulnerable to the consumer pullback caused by the “stay at home” orders issued in at least 42 states in order to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic spread. So it isn’t just coincidence that Trump’s concern crept up just as the economy slumped down. As reported…
“It’s unusual from Trump to lose money because of his presidency. He’s used his position to promote his hotels and resorts, even going so far as to try to host the next G7 summit at the Trump National Doral golf resort near Miami. The Secret Service often stays on Trump properties when the president is on vacation, paying room and board directly to the president’s private business, sometimes as much as $650 per night for a single room. Of course, the hotel industry has been one of the hardest hit by the global economic downturn—including the Trumps’ DC hotel, which had a steady revenue stream from foreign governments looking to curry favor with the American president, and was up for sale up until the current economic crisis.”
Prior to the emergence of the coronavirus, Trump frequently tried to pressure the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates. His stated intent was that it would give a boost to the economy. The truth is that Trump was only seeking to reduce his own fiscal burden. He is carrying more than $350 million dollars in variable rate loans from Deutsche Bank and other lenders. So he benefits significantly when rates go down. He also hoped that such a move would juice the stock market which would aid his reelection prospects. But when the Fed did cut rates, the market nosedived, recognizing that it was a sign of trouble ahead in the form of a recession or worse. Trump’s flagrantly self-serving pestering of the Fed backfired.
So whenever you hear Trump whine about how “our country wasn’t built to be shut down” – a bizarre comment that implies that other countries were built for that – remember that Trump’s concern was only triggered with a conspicuous connection to his own financial welfare. The American people do need the country to return to its former stability and growth as quickly as possible. But first they need to ensure the health of themselves, their families, and their communities. And Trump’s rush to superficially attend to the economy, at the expense of public health, must be seen for what it is: unvarnished, self-serving greed.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.