In a muddled, dishonest, rambling news conference from the White House press briefing room, President Donald Trump for over an hour talked to reporters Wednesday evening about coronavirus in an attempt to stave off three days of market near-collapse. He lied. He twisted the truth. He displayed little grasp of basic facts. He didn’t let the experts run the show.
He instilled no confidence Wednesday night. In fact, the DOW futures dropped as Trump began speaking:
Dow Futures dropped when Trump said the market fell 2k points because of the Dem debate pic.twitter.com/cvbviB2l9a
— Evan Siegfried (@evansiegfried) February 27, 2020
The markets on Thursday rewarded his efforts with the DOW posting the largest single-day loss in history.
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) February 27, 2020
The Trump administration has known about coronavirus since at least December 1, 2019. It did nothing until January 29, when the White House posted a memo announcing President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force. The task force did not even include the surgeon general, making it clear the White House had little interest in communicating to the American people any sense of competence or delivering even an iota of public education.
Nearly an entire month went by. Trump and the First Family played in India, posing at the Taj Mahal, refusing to eat the specially prepared foods their hosts created just for them, and praising Prime Minister Modi as Muslims were being slayed just streets away from where the Trump family was staying.
The grandeur and beauty of the Taj Mahal is awe inspiring! 🇺🇸 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/jcYwXHxf4c
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 24, 2020
“The losses mark the worse week for U.S. stocks since the financial crash of 2008. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each also plunged by more than 4%,” reports ABC News, calling it the “worst week” since the 2008 global financial crisis.
This, as the First Family played, pretending to be on official business as the coronavirus outbreak exploded earlier this week.
Trump returned after two days of about 1000 point drops in the DOW each day. He hastily called a press conference for Wednesday at 6 PM. Just after it began at 6:30 PM it became clear there was not going to be a coronavirus czar, there was no real plan, other than to put in charge Vice President Mike Pence. Even a Fox News pundit eschewed that decision, noting Pence doesn’t believe in science, is not a doctor, and has a horrific record when it comes to public health – he oversaw an explosive HIV outbreak during which he decided to pray for guidance rather than listen to what experts told him he had to do.
And now, as the markets tumble, as Trump lies about the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and pretends that there might not be “community spread” – the first case of which the CDC literally announced just after Trump’s news conference, it’s become even more clear Trump and his administration aren’t interested in protecting the American public, but rather, they are interested in appearing to be doing “things” that might make it appear they are protecting the American public – when their goal is to protect the markets.
That’s why Vice President Pence’s first act as head of the Coronavirus Task Force was to add top and Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to the Task Force, along with the surgeon general (finally).
Absent from the list: any public health experts, any crisis experts, anyone not from the Trump administration, the CDC, or the NIH. In other words, there is no one on the Trump Coronavirus Task Force the Trump administration cannot control.
That’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because the administration has already told the federal government all communication, to reporters and others, is to go through Vice President Pence, and it’s dangerous because there is no one who will tell Trump or Pence anything they don’t want to hear.
And what else is the Trump administration doing?
Campaigning at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Over the course of Thursday through Sunday, 21 top Trump administration officials, including the President and the Vice President, and a large number of Cabinet Secretaries, will all be attending and speaking at the far right-wing conference. CPAC over the years has hosted some of the most extreme groups and fringe elements in conservative America. Groups like the John Birch Society, and extremists like Milo Yiannopoulos — whose invitation was pulled when a vile video of him was released.
The Democratic primaries are just getting started but the markets have already voted. They have made clear they have no confidence in this President and this Vice President.
Unfortunately, those who will pay the price form that vote are, as usual, the Americans who can least afford a hit to their life savings – if they have any – or to their 401(k)s, or to the number of hours they work which will be cut so their bosses can save a few bucks when business gets bad.
The stock market has now plunged about 3200 points this week, and there’s no reason to suggest Friday will be any better, because there’s no reason to suggest this president will be any better.