'Confirms all of our worst fears': Paul Krugman explains how Trump’s 'self-centered' nature undermines crisis response
Paul Krugman often slams President Donald Trump on economic issues as well as for the president’s views on civil liberties. But this week, the liberal economist takes Trump to task for something else: his administration’s response to the threat of coronavirus. And so far, Krugman asserts, Trump and his supporters have been handling the crisis badly.
"The Trump team confirms all of our worst fears," he wrote.
Moreover, Krugman warns, Trump has been undermining the United States’ health resources, making the country less prepared to cope with a threat like coronavirus.
“The story of the Trump pandemic response actually began several years ago,” Krugman explains. “Almost as soon as he took office, Trump began cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading in turn to an 80% cut in the resources the agency devotes to global disease outbreaks. Trump also shut down the entire global-health-security unit of the National Security Council.”
Thanks to those cuts, Krugman laments, the U.S. “entered the current crisis in an already weakened condition” — and when it became obvious that coronavirus has the potential to turn into a global pandemic, the response of Trump and his allies was embarrassing.
“The first reaction of the Trumpers was to see the coronavirus as a Chinese problem — and to see whatever is bad for China as being good for us,” Krugman notes. “Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, cheered it on as a development that would ‘accelerate the return of jobs to North America.’ The story changed once it became clear that the virus was spreading well beyond China.”
Krugman points out that far-right radio host Rush Limbaugh has claimed that the mainstream news media are exaggerating the threat of coronavirus as a way of attacking Trump — and Limbaugh went so far as to compare coronavirus to “the common cold.”
“No, the coronavirus isn’t like the common cold,” Krugman warns. “In fact, early indications are that the virus may be as lethal as the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed as many as 50 million people.”
Krugman concludes his column by stressing that the “Trumpian response” to coronavirus has been “completely self-centered,” with Trumpians wasting their time and energy “blaming the news media and the Democrats.”
“Maybe Trump — and America — will be lucky, and this won’t be as bad as it might be,” Krugman writes. “But anyone feeling confident right now isn’t paying attention.”