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Newt Gingrich: After corona-crisis, how will we restore America to economic health?

(“Face the Nation” video screenshot)

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich supports the coronavirus shutdowns and lockdowns being pursued by some Democrat governors but warns that it’s imperative lawmakers immediately start planning for what comes next.

In a column published Sunday, Gingrich defended the ongoing, arguably authoritarian coronavirus shutdowns and lockdowns on the basis that these temporary inconveniences “will starve the virus and begin to break up its momentum.”

“Obviously, we have no choice in the immediate short-term but to close down, to distance ourselves from other people and to stop doing so many of our regular activities. We hope that doing so will starve the virus and begin to break up its momentum,” he opined.

However, he stressed that these measures must be temporary and that those governors pursuing shutdowns and lockdowns must start planning for a recovery NOW.

This campaign of shock and awe will work for two or three weeks; it won’t work for two or three months. Bluntly, we’re not going to be able to keep 330 million people doing nothing for more than a couple of weeks,” he wrote.

The problem, of course, is that there’s no end in sight, with some experts predicting that the global coronavirus pandemic could potentially last at least 18 months.

And like Justin Fox of Bloomberg opined last week, “No, We’re Not All Going to Have to Stay Home for 18 Months.”

No matter what happens, Gingrich continued, it’s contingent on policymakers to begin planning now on how to recover their states to normal.

It helps, he wrote, that America has gone “into this pandemic with a strong economy under President Trump, with low unemployment and strong, consistent growth.”

“So we’re starting from a stronger position than other countries that are also dealing with the coronavirus. That being said, the virus will hurt the American economy.”

Meaning, he continued, “we’re going to have to think through how we restart the economy, how we gradually reintegrate people and reopen stores. We badly need some people to start planning how we get back to being a country of growth and prosperity.”

Again though, it deserves to be pointed out that the extent of long-term economic damage will be dependent on how long the shutdowns and lockdowns last. The longer they last, the greater the damage that’ll be incurred.

“The fulfillment of these totalitarian impulses has put more than 1 million folks out of work, closed thousands of businesses and impaired the fundamental rights of tens of millions of persons – all in violation of numerous sections of the Constitution,” Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano pointed out in a column of his own last week.

Luckily, Gingrich already understands all of this.

I think that they have to pivot and begin to figure out a controlled way to begin reopening things,” he argued on the latest edition of his podcast.

His guest, economic expert Stephen Moore, agreed.

If you can’t have people congregating, it’s going to be very difficult for our economy,” he said. “As this goes on week after week, the president has his $1,000 program for right now … OK, but what are you going to do three weeks from now? Are you going to send people another $1,000? At some point, you do run out of money.”

Exactly.

The problem is that none of the governors who’ve instituted partial or full shutdowns have offered a single plan on how to return their states to normal, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who last week shut down a slew of “non-essential” businesses and services.

Listen to Gingrich’s full podcast below or at its original location:

Gingrich and Moore aren’t the only ones who’ve called for lawmakers to start planning ahead.

The Wall Street Journal’s entire editorial board published a piece last week warning that “federal and state officials need to start adjusting their anti-virus strategy now to avoid an economic recession that will dwarf the harm from 2008-2009.”

“The vast social-distancing project of the last 10 days or so has been necessary and has done much good. Warnings about large gatherings of more than 10 people and limiting access to nursing homes will save lives,” the board wrote, echoing Gingrich’s argument that a time-limited amount of quarantine is beneficial.

Yet the costs of this national shutdown are growing by the hour, and we don’t mean federal spending. We mean a tsunami of economic destruction that will cause tens of millions to lose their jobs as commerce and production simply cease. Many large companies can withstand a few weeks without revenue but that isn’t true of millions of small and mid-sized firms.”

But again, it doesn’t appear like any lawmakers have begun moving past the initial stage — the very controversial stage, at that — and pondering what comes next.

Instead, it’s been left up to official and unofficial commentators like Gingrich, Moore and Ben Shapiro to do their jobs for them:

Vivek Saxena

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