March 24, 2020

Trump eyes a back-to-work plan despite coronavirus

AXIOS.com


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The White House Correspondents' Association reduced for the second time the number of briefing-room seats that can be occupied on Monday. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump egged on by a growing number of advisers and business leaders, believes the economy will crater absent a strong signal, and wants to stagger the reopening of work nationwide, people who’ve spoken to him tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: Trump has been hearing from lots of people in the business community and conservative media telling him the economy can't survive this shutdown much longer. The sources say that "horrific," "truly scary" economic consequences were described to Trump.

"We have to get this going," Trump said during a dinnertime briefing that lasted nearly two hours.

  • "[T]he faster we get it going, the more likely it is that those stores, little businesses, big businesses, medium-sized businesses open up."
  • "And we'll get [the economy] going very fast. ... As soon as we say 'let's go' — and it's gonna be pretty soon. ... It's gonna be sooner than people would think."

What's next: Nothing has been decided yet. But Trump has been persuaded, in line with his instincts, that the economy can’t sustain this shutdown for much longer.

  • The administration is discussing different tiers to ease Americans back into normal life after the 15-day period that ends next Monday.
  • People with underlying health issues or in the highest risk age range will likely be asked to stick with isolation.
  • But others could be encouraged to get back into a more normal routine.

Between the lines: Remember that Trump has no public health professionals in his circle of informal advisers. Those are not his go-to calls when he's in the residence late at night. They’re all business or media folks.

  • The president wants an end date to give businesses, markets and consumers — hence his fixation on the 15-day deadline.

Reality checkvia Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens: For now, the only way to avoid large numbers of deaths is to keep people away from each other to stop the virus' spread.

  • And as long as the coronavirus is spreading, it’s likely to hurt the economy.

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