The Trump regime believes they have this election in the bag already, but they are publicly admitting the scenario where Trump gets crushed by any and every Democrat in November involves a big economic slump brought on by the Wuhan coronavirus. They're so scared of this happening that they already have their scapegoat trussed and ready for the chopping block: HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Trump himself took a break from his two-day trip to India to weigh in on coronavirus, tweeting that the virus was under control in the United States. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” he wrote late Monday afternoon.
But inside the White House, officials have been quietly studying models of the pandemic’s potential effect on both the U.S. and the global economy, said one Republican close to the White House. Among policy aides, there‘s widespread concern that the spread of the coronavirus will hit a slew of industries including manufacturers, airlines, automakers and tech companies, slowing down both the U.S. and Chinese economies. Aides fear the White House has few economic tricks it can deploy to lessen the impact.
Meanwhile, officials like acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and domestic policy chief Joe Grogan have turned their fire on HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who’s leading the coronavirus response, arguing that Azar has poorly coordinated the strategy, failed to escalate the potential risks to Trump and pushed for a multibillion-dollar emergency-funding request that they initially viewed as extreme, said four individuals familiar with the matter.The Trump administration on Monday night announced a request for $2.5 billion in emergency coronavirus cash, which would also shift at least $535 million in previously committed funds.
Funding the response had been a major sticking point between the White House and Azar, who lobbied to request additional funds from Congress before he makes four separate hearings on the Hill this week. Officials had spent days jockeying over the final figure for the emergency package, veering anywhere between $1 billion to $5 billion. The package also is expected to face resistance from Democrats, who have warned the Trump administration against shifting money away from existing commitments.
The White House and HHS both maintained that the task force is working in tandem and defended Azar’s leadership.
“There is zero disagreement between HHS, [National Security Council], the White House, and other members of the task force,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “Secretary Azar is the right person to lead this effort, and any reporting to the contrary is just false.”
"OMB and HHS have been in lockstep throughout this entire process," said Derek Kan, a top White House budget deputy who's also working on coronavirus efforts. An HHS spokesperson denied that the White House and Azar had disagreed over the emergency-funding request.
But the pressure-packed coronavirus fight has reopened year-old cracks between the White House and Azar, who has few allies in the White House and was seen as weakened by his own recent feud with Medicare chief Seema Verma. Two of Azar’s allies said they worried that the secretary’s job is at risk if the coronavirus response goes poorly.
Administration officials also have traded blame over the evacuation of 14 Americans from a cruise ship who were confirmed to have coronavirus, fueled by Trump’s anger over the episode. The decision to evacuate the Americans — who were placed on a plane with other Americans, over the objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has sparked finger-pointing and second-guessing for days. Japanese officials didn’t inform their U.S. counterparts that the 14 had tested positive until they were already aboard buses with the other American cruise ship passengers heading for the airport.
Some officials worry that the U.S. is missing potential coronavirus infections of its own, especially as clusters of cases emerge in countries like Iran, prompting that nation's neighbors Turkey, Pakistan and Armenia to close their borders. The U.S. surveillance effort has been hampered by the failure of the health department’s tests, with public health labs on Monday asking for permission to use their own homegrown tests rather than wait on the CDC.
“If we have an outbreak in the United States and didn’t pick it up, that’s going to be a public health mistake of historic proportion,” said a former senior HHS official.
How competent do you think the Trump regime will be at handling something that can't be blocked by Mitch McConnell or shouted down by FOX News state TV or Rush Limbaugh? Something that Trump can't intimidate on Twitter or threaten with his lawyers?
Oh, I imagine the Trump regime will botch the inevitable US outbreak badly. Unfortunately it's going to be deadly when it happens.