Larry Kudlow Reminds Anxious America There's No 'Coronavirus' In 'TEAM'
Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, went on CNBC this morning to finally put to rest concerns that the Trump administration is more worried about how the economy might affect Donald Trump's reelection than about the coronavirus epidemic. Kudlow, who insisted two weeks ago the outbreak was "contained," repeated that claim today, although in between the two TV appearances, 14 Americans have died and the number of states with confirmed cases has increased to 22. Not to worry, said Kudlow: the economy is strong overall, and this little dip in the market is a fine time for smart investors to buy! What's really important, said Kudlow, is that "America should stay at work," as long as America doesn't yet have a fever and chills or a productive cough.
Kudlow explained on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" (yes really) that you only need to worry about coronavirus in the locations where there's actually an outbreak, and even if you get COVID-19, "80 percent come out of it with no problem." Sure, elderly folks and people who might have "preexisting conditions" (he's good with the medical lingo) may need to take extra precautions. But as for the rest of us, we got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow:
[If] you're healthy, you should go to work. Go about your business. That's our advice. And even regarding transportation which may be hit, the airlines, they are calm about it but they are in trouble in some of their numbers. Look, domestic flight, for the most part, is in good shape. And, if you stay away from the travel warning countries, international flight, likewise. So, I don't want to downplay anything. Worry about the effect on human beings for heaven's sake. But I'm just saying, let's not overreact [...] In many ways. America should stay at work. We should stay at work.
Host David Faber broke in, with some squawking, and noted that former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb had warned (like, on Faber's show the other day) that the US response to the outbreak has been inadequate, and we're "losing valuable time" in getting measures in place to prevent larger outbreaks. Gottlieb also noted that because of inadequate testing, there are likely thousands of undetected cases, though Faber didn't bring that up with Kudlow.
But about that "America should stay at work" thing. DUDE. "[Statements] like the ones you just made are actually encouraging people to do things that they shouldn't. And will actually cause the spread of the virus as opposed to it stopping."
Kudlow replied that Gottleib is a brilliant friend of his, and of course if you're in Seattle or Northern California where there are states of emergency, you should be extra careful. But then it was right back to that shiny magic feather of the "80 percent" of people who "come out just fine" — for which we haven't seen a specific fact check, but if he means "ultimately get better," that's way different from "don't have to stay home in bed" or whatever the hell he's trying to get at.
But the rest of the country is not suffering from those kinds of breakouts. At least not yet. I don't want to suggest it might not occur in the future. We're just trying to do this a day at a time, a fact at a time, if you will. And really, the overriding numbers, most Americans are not at risk. And as I say, 80% of Americans, if you get the infection, are going to come out just fine. Some people have it and don't even know it because they get through it in a week or two.
And there he goes with Donald Trump's horseshit insistence that a lot of people get infected and don't even notice at all, which sure sounds like understating the seriousness of the disease to us.
Now, because Trump made a big deal out of insisting he never said people should go to work when they're infected, we should also point out that Kudlow said "America should go to work," not that "Americans" who are sick with the coronavirus should do so. We have to be very fair about this, because there's no way anyone could possibly hear Kudlow and think he's downplaying the seriousness of an epidemic.
You know, just like how Trump said there are "thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work." No way was he saying they should do that, just that they do, and it's perfectly fine, but he's not recommending it. It's not like they're monsters telling you to go and get sick. That's CNBC gabber Rick Santelli's job.
So when Kudlow repeats that "80 percent" of patients "come out just fine," he appears to be conflating their ultimate recovery with how sick they get before they're all better. (For those who don't just get all better while sitting around, there can be little problems like, for instance, some lung lesions.)
And in US America, our tracking of the disease is so shitty that it seems a bit careless to suggest that most of us should just shrug this off and look forward to the next round of happy talk from Trump and his pals, 90 percent of whom are dunderheads, the end.
[NBC News / CNBC / CNBC transcript / NYT / National Geographic]
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