Capital Hill is officially in full coronavirus fever, as the COVID-19 outbreak replaces the Russian collusion hoax and the failed impeachment effort by Democrats as the next big thing that will take down President Donald Trump.
With the media having bought in on the narrative and Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking about civilization being at risk if Trump should be reelected, the president goes about the business of looking out for the American people.
On Monday, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2013.76 points, which is the biggest daily drop ever in terms of points, President Trump unveiled the first stage of a coronavirus bailout package to assist the economy.
Looking to help protect the American economy, the president spoke at a White House briefing about unveiling “very dramatic” proposals that would likely include a payroll tax cut, help for hourly workers so they will not be penalized for missing work, and crisis loans for small businesses.
“We are going to be asking tomorrow, we’re seeing the Senate. We’re going to be meeting with House Republicans, Mitch McConnell, everybody discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief, substantial relief,” the president said.
“We’re also going to be talking about hourly wage earners getting help so that they can be in a position where they’re not going to ever miss a paycheck,” he added.
According to The New England Journal of Medicine, the first case of coronavirus in the U.S. was reported on January 20, 2020, which was just seven weeks ago, and the president took note of early actions taken — there are now around 546 people in the country who have been confirmed to have the virus, with 22 deaths reported.
“This was something that we were thrown into and we’re going to handle it, and we have been handling it very well,” Trump said. “The big decision was early when we shut down our borders. We’re the first ones ever to do that. We’ve never done that in our country before. Or we’d have a situation that would be a lot more dire.”
In an earlier tweet, Trump added a little perspective to the numbers.
The president also offered a take on what may be driving the markets to fall so dramatically:
Par for the course, the Daily Mail reported that Trump “stormed out” of the briefing after he “refused to take questions.”
The big question being has the president been tested for coronavirus — this coming after it was reported Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who was on Air Force One with Trump, was exposed to someone infected with the virus last week at CPAC.
Judge for yourself if Trump stormed out:
Compare this Tweet by @DailyMail to what actually happened:
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) March 9, 2020
For the record, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham let it be known later that Trump has not been tested.
“The President has not received COVID-19 testing because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients, nor does he have any symptoms," says @PressSec.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) March 10, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the White House task force handing the coronavirus, also spoke Monday evening and despite the nonstop coverage the media is giving the story, reassured the American people that risks are low.
“The risk of contracting the coronavirus to the American public remains low, and the risk of serious disease among the American public also remains low,” Pence said.
The full briefing can be seen here:
LIVE: Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing https://t.co/QkF20ooYl5
— The White House 45 Archived (@WhiteHouse45) March 9, 2020
There was talk in Washington of a major economic stimulus package, though Trump does not appear to favor such move.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to meet with Republican senators on Tuesday to discuss economic stimulus.
The proposals come as airlines, travel and cruise industries are being hit hard by the coronavirus, with thousands of flights being canceled as conventions and business conferences are canceled or rescheduled.
As expected, Democrats responded by criticizing Trump.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, fresh off publicly threatening two Supreme Court justices by name, hit the president for worrying about the economy.
“What was glaringly missing from President Trump’s news conference was how he is actually going to combat the spread of the coronavirus and keep the American people safe,” Schumer said in a statement. “It seems President Trump is more focused on the stock market than addressing this pandemic.“
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., took issue with the use of tax cuts for the American people, insisting this was not “what we need right now.”
“What the economy needs right now is some stability and confidence that we’re addressing the issue that is undermining the economy,” Hoyer said. “The president’s answer for almost everything is a tax cut. We think we need to make sure that people, and health facilities and insurance companies and others, have confidence that they’re not going to be bankrupted by this.”
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