The U.S. stock market and the rest of America aren’t going to begin to calm down about coronavirus until Donald Trump gives the U.S. what it’s looking for: some kind of plan, says author and Pulitzer-winning columnist Thomas Friedman.
“What is killing business in this country, what’s killing just the average person emotionally is ... they don’t feel there’s a plan, that there’s an end date, there’s a strategy,” he told Jake Tapper on Monday on CNN. “That is what leadership is about. And that has been the real failure of this administration.”
What’s “totally missing in the country right now is any sense that we have a plan,” said The New York Times columnist. “The president went from ‘it’s a hoax’ to ‘it’s a war’ to ‘I don’t really want to fight this war; I want to get the economy back.’ What business leaders are looking for, not to mention average citizens, is: ’Just tell me you have a plan’ .... We keep bouncing around.”
Friedman was reacting to indications that Trump next week may lift social distancing guidelines, intended to slow the spread of coronavirus, in order to boost the economy. Trump appeared to be influenced in part by Fox News.
Friedman said it rattles the nation when the president reads a “column in the morning or a story, and [says], ‘Yeah I don’t feel like locking up the economy much anymore. That’s how I feel today, when I felt something different yesterday.’ That’s crazy,” Friedman added.
He also said the “idea that you have a national economic adviser [Larry Kudlow] giving medical directives and advice about the economy is insane.”
Kudlow is supporting Trump’s reported intention to ease social distancing — a move opposed by health experts in the battle against the pandemic. Kudlow last month declared the coronavirus “contained.” The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. has since surged to more than 500.
Friedman’s column in the Times on Sunday outlined a “tiered” program to get Americans back to work by public health expert Dr. David Katz. He recommends strict sheltering in place for two weeks for nearly everyone, then continued isolation for those who develop symptoms — and sequestration of vulnerable populations, supplemented by extensive testing.
Check out Tapper’s interview with Friedman above.