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Robert Reich: Trump’s Rush To Reopen America Is Causing A Covid Resurgence – OpEd


Donald Trump said that June’s jobs report, which showed an uptick, proves the economy is “roaring back.”

Rubbish. The Labor Department gathered the data during the week of June 12, when America was reporting 25,000 new cases of Covid-19 per day. By the time the report was issued, that figure was 55,000.

The economy isn’t roaring back. Just over half of working-age Americans have jobs now, the lowest ratio in over 70 years. What’s roaring back is Covid-19. 

Until it’s tamed, the economy doesn’t stand a chance.

The surge in cases isn’t because America is doing more tests for the virus, as Trump contends. Cases are rising even where testing is declining. Deaths have resumed their gruesome ascent.

The surge is occurring because America reopened before Covid-19 was contained.

Trump was so intent on having a good economy by Election Day that he resisted doing what was necessary to contain the virus. He left everything to governors and local officials, then warned that the “cure” of closing the economy was “worse than the disease.” Trump even called on citizens to “liberate” their states from public health restrictions.

Yet he still has no national plan for testing, contact tracing and isolating people with infections. 

It would be one thing if every other rich nation in the world botched it as badly as has America. But even Italy – not always known for the effectiveness of its leaders or the pliability of its citizens – has contained the virus and is reopening without a resurgence.

There was never a conflict between containing Covid-19 and getting the economy back on track. The first was always a prerequisite to the second. By doing nothing to contain the virus, Trump has not only caused tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths but put the economy into a stall.

The uptick in jobs in June was due almost entirely to the hasty reopening, which is now being reversed. Across America, a vast re-closing is underway, as haphazard as was the reopening. 

In the biggest public health emergency in US history, in which nearly 136,000 have already lost their lives, still no one is in charge.

Brace yourself. Not only will the virus take many more lives in the months ahead, but millions of Americans are in danger of becoming destitute. Extra unemployment benefits enacted by Congress in March are set to end July 31. About one in five people in renter households are at risk of eviction by September 30. Delinquency rates on mortgages have more than doubled since March.

An estimated 25 million Americans have lost or will lose employer-provided health insurance. America’s fragile childcare system is in danger of collapse, with the result that hundreds of thousands of working parents will not be able to return to work even if jobs are available.

What is Trump and the GOP’s response to this looming catastrophe? Nothing. Senate Republicans are trying to ram through a $740 billion defense bill while ignoring legislation to provide housing and food relief.

They are refusing to extend extra unemployment benefits beyond July, saying the benefits are keeping Americans from returning to work. In reality, it’s the lack of jobs.

Trump has done one thing, though. He’s asked the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act. If the court agrees, it will end health insurance for 23 million more Americans and give the richest 0.1% a tax cut of about $198,000 a year.

This is sheer lunacy. The priority must be to get control over this pandemic and help Americans survive it, physically and financially. Anything less is morally indefensible.

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Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

6 thoughts on “Robert Reich: Trump’s Rush To Reopen America Is Causing A Covid Resurgence – OpEd

  • July 18, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    This is a very accurate abd fair article. Trump and some governors of Florida, Texas, and others are responsible for killing Americans by the Coronavirus. Those reopened the economy while the killing of Coronavirus was on the rise with more infected people. Those governors and Trump forced working people to go back to work again. The president backed his reopening plan with the Defense Act which means that workers cannot file legal cases against their employers. Many politicians defended this position thinking going back to work and eliminating data related to the virus will brainwash people and make them forget the virus.
    Frankly, if the same conditions continue, the Coronavirus will continue killing Americans for sometimes to come. Free Market Capitalism is working under unhealthy conditions. Free Market Capitalism is well-known by its outsourcing of private cost to society: Negative Externality. This externality will cooperate with the virus to continue killing Americans. Capitalists are living in total uncertainty which creates imperfect information preventing them from investing and hiring.
    The US economy is phony economy and cannot produce items for countering the virus. People cannot find masks such N95 and nurses working with Coronvavirus victims have been told to use a mask for two weeks. And those nurses are working many hours a day. The Federal government could not even use factories to produce these masks because it is not interested in spending money. So if the Federal government does not want to spend money, capitalists will not spend money for investing in products which are needed for unknown periods of time. ‘
    In other words the Federal government and capitalists are not interested in spending money for helping the people. Both want the people to do it but the people are broke without jobs and income.
    Finally, I should state that Trump and the Congress have made bailouts to corporations and reduced interest rate to zero and paid people unemployed workers due to Coronavirus $600 a week. Those think that these policies will control and eliminate the virus. As we know these policies will enrich corporations and financiers.

    • July 19, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      What a Bunch of crap. I would answer and expose all your lies, but it wouldn’t get published by this corrupt leftist publication anyway. They only publish what makes America look bad.
      Right, publisher!?

      • July 20, 2020 at 3:30 am

        You might want to look at our policy, that we publish from right and left, this site has not political leanings, but instead we support freedom of speech

        • July 20, 2020 at 6:37 am

          If the statement about your policy is accurate, how come you did not publish my reply to Prof. Reich’s article couple of days ago, challenging some of his claims??

          • July 21, 2020 at 2:44 am

            Not sure what comment you are referring too, however, in general if comments are too long they are not published, it’s not the forum, instead you can submit an article

      • July 21, 2020 at 2:49 am

        No need to put effort into making the USA look bad. We do that to great effect all on our own. We are failing!


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