President Donald Trump and his administration lacks the skills and brains required to properly manage the United States through the coronavirus pandemic, a historian wrote in a brutal op-ed contrasting how Trump has responded to this crisis with how former President Franklin Roosevelt responded to the Great Depression.
After months of responding poorly to the unfolding pandemic, Trump signed the CARES Act into law late last month after Congress passed it. The law is a major stimulus package, but while it’s the largest such relief package in history, the question is whether it will actually work.
“When he signed the $2 trillion COVID-19 rescue package last week, President Donald Trump was visibly pleased,” historian Joshua Zeitz wrote for Politico. “He touted it as the ‘single biggest economic relief package” in U.S. history, which will deliver “urgently needed relief’ to Americans. Perhaps. Sweeping in its ambition, the package endeavors to infuse hundreds of thousands of small businesses, tens of millions of individuals and families, hospitals and health care systems, as well as the nation’s largest employers, with cash and liquidity.”
Here’s the thing. First, the law doesn’t really provide near enough stimulus to the American people at a time when 10 million just filed unemployment claims. In fact, the St. Louis Fed chair predicts that unemployment could be worse than during the Great Depression.
And bills are so high that $1,200 per person just won’t be enough to cover them all. Corporations, meanwhile, received a windfall. But Americans are going to have to wait for their piece of the stimulus because Trump and his team are incompetent.
“We’re already beginning to see signs of problems: The $350 billion lending program to help small businesses won’t be ready for its launch this week, with banks claiming the White House set an unrealistic deadline and unworkable terms, and failed to provide basic rules and guidelines,” Zeitz wrote.
Zeitz continued by pointing out that FDR expanded the government and had a proper team in place to see the country through the Great Depression and implement the New Deal. Trump, however, has viciously attacked the government and has failed to fill crucial positions. Furthermore, the team he does have is unqualified and does not have the brainpower or the talent to roll out this relief package.
Unlike FDR, who vastly expanded state capacity, Trump has waged war on the federal government, leaving vast numbers of key roles unfilled, bullying and hollowing out the ranks of the nonpartisan civil service and populating his White House and Cabinet with men and women of little qualification. FDR hired capable pros—people with decades of experience in law, social policy, economics and other fields. Trump’s closest advisers are his son-in-law, who inherited a real estate company, and his daughter, who before entering public service operated a fashion line. One of the top deputies at the Office of Presidential Personnel—a key office that selects, vets and ushers through the clearance and confirmation processes top administration officials—is a 23-year-old college senior.
Compounding the issue is that this crisis is far worse than what Roosevelt faced, what with the pandemic raging in addition to the economy collapsing.
“Trump’s task is in some ways harder than the one FDR faced in 1935: The economic downswing is more immediate, brought on by a disease pandemic,” Leitz concluded. “Yet there is little in the administration’s track record to suggest it is staffed to meet the challenge.”
Clearly, Trump can praise himself all he wants, he is no FDR and our country is going to suffer for it as this historian clearly illustrates.
Featured Image: Screenshot