Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, states and other local jurisdictions around the U.S. are facing big financial struggles, which could lead to decreasing accessibility to crucial local public health services and similar provisions. Democrats have been advocating for financial assistance for these hard-hit locales to be included in pending Coronavirus relief funding legislation, but Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and President Donald Trump have resisted the idea. Why? It’s not because of their take on the actual needs of the states. It’s because they reportedly worry that financial assistance will give states the cover to keep their economies closed amidst Coronavirus-induced social distancing measures. As such, the GOP is attempting to extort states into reopening.
According to POLITICO:
‘Senate and House Democrats have been pushing hard in negotiations for $150 billion in funds for state and local governments to pair with the hundreds of billions the administration wants in small business lending. But the White House and Trump Administration have been holding out because, in part, they believe if Congress keeps cutting checks for state and local governments, they will be disincentivized to open up their economies.’
Social distancing measures that have forced economic closures are not part of some kind of plot to make Trump look bad. They’re part of the necessary public health measures designed to stem the spread of the Coronavirus. Yet, this facet of the situation does not seem to matter to Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress, who seem to want to leave even some Republican-led jurisdictions on the rocks in the name of prioritizing economic growth above basic public health measures designed to save people’s lives.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican and the chairman of the National Governors Association, has insisted that Congress should either provide $500 billion in aid for states across the country or prepare for huge reductions in provisions like local health services.
‘In the absence of unrestricted fiscal support of at least $500 billion from the federal government, states will have to confront the prospect of significant reductions to critically important services all across this country, hampering public health, the economic recovery and — in turn — our collective effort to get people back to work.’
Indeed — lowered capability to actually confront the Coronavirus could drag down the economic growth that Trump seems so keen on. If people are getting sick and dying while others decline to intermingle publicly at all, that’s not going to be great for the economy, let alone Americans at large! Trump doesn’t seem to care.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health himself noted:
‘Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.’
But again — short-term public image is what Trump is prioritizing.
"Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen," Dr. Anthony Fauci on ABC this morning.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) April 20, 2020
Trump has spent his Coronavirus response time winding himself up into a rage against his opponents. Meanwhile, in the absence of the federal assistance that they so desperately need, leaders like Governor Hogan have ended up having to turn to other nations entirely for help. His state got tests from South Korea recently.
I’m grateful to President Trump for sending us a list of federal labs and generously offering Maryland use of them for #COVID19 testing. Accessing these federal labs will be critical for utilizing the 500,000 tests we have acquired from South Korea.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) April 21, 2020