President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, April 3, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
On his show not too long ago, Jake Tapper dared to ask the President of the United States for a plan. He was pretty attacked by most of the right for his commentary, including here at RedState. But I don’t think Tapper was wrong to ask the question, and I think it’s time we talked about where we go from here.
I have long been in the camp that the models are not all that wrong and that the sheltering in place is necessary. But I am also not someone who is economically impacted in the short term by this. As a public school teacher, I am still getting paid and my wife is in the same boat. At the end of the day, we could probably make it through this. I am keenly aware, however, that not everyone is able to do that in the short term, and in the long term prospects get worse for everyone.
That makes times like these very difficult, policy-wise. We have record unemployment claims, a stock market more volatile than any episode of Tiger King could ever hope to be, and a government that truly believes throwing money at problems will fix them. Sheltering in place is the right call for the greater good of our health, but for the greater good of our economy, it is a major issue. The problem for President Donald Trump and his administration is that there has to be a balance.
That’s why I think Tapper asked the exact right question on his show. What is the plan? We have largely been playing defense where the novel coronavirus is concerned, reacting to hot spots, shifting production to personal protective equipment, and sending checks to affected Americans, but there is no offense right now. Because we’re still reacting, we’re not to the point where there is hope for an economic comeback.
So the people who are complaining that the shelter-in-place orders are too restrictive and hurting our economy have a point, and they shouldn’t be ridiculed by the left as much as they are. On the flip side of that coin, however, attacking the models and downplaying the severity of COVID-19 does nothing to help the problem, which is a very real threat to the health and safety of Americans.
The President’s task force has been effective. Trump has listened to the experts and while his press conferences are usually lengthy and filled with tangents probably best left unexplored, the American people are responding positively toward them and overall we are seeing the numbers drop.
Now that we are nearing the peak in a lot of states, though, we have to come up with a good plan to re-open the economy – gradually, so that we’re not undoing the good we’ve done up until now.
You can’t simply re-open things all at once, or you’ll be sending Americans out to re-expose themselves to the threat and matters will only get worse. But if you don’t have a timeline, there is very little real hope for the small businesses and workers who have been so majorly impacted by all this. A timeline gives business owners a chance to evaluate and say: “Okay, if we restructure and get a little creative, we can weather this storm and make it through.” No timeline means they don’t know what to expect and makes it that much more likely they’ll simply decide to close for good now because there’s no way to prepare when there is no plan.
So now that the President and his team of experts seem to have things on the right track where the virus is concerned, there needs to be a plan to get the economy rolling again.
All they need is a timeline, and if they have to adjust dates along the way, that’s fine. But a timeline is a plan. “We’re going to do this by this date and then we’ll move another increment forward by this date” and so on until you get to May 1 or May 15 or even May 30. Whatever it is, you are putting Americans much more at ease by having a timeline and working day and night to prepare to meet the goals set in it.
That’s what America has to have right now. We can’t afford to simply re-open everything right now, but we also can’t afford to keep things closed indefinitely. We need a detailed plan. Not something that’s hinted at. Not “as soon as we can.” Not “we have a good idea.”
It has to be something we can see and read for ourselves and mark on a calendar. It has to be driven by the data and not simply by people’s whims. But, it’s got to happen soon.