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COVID Update May 8: The political strategy of Trump turning “public health official” into the equivalent of “climate scientist” is underway. 1/
The view from Trump advisors not directly involved in the rising death toll is that the “CDC” (i.e., EPA) wants to burden Trump’s chances of driving economic activity in the 8 states he cares about.2/
The effort to discredit these folks is on. With the same playbook used in climate science.
-First, CDC guidelines are being ignored.
-Now expect to hear more from “counter-scientists”, discrediting the “doom and gloom” people who want to keep the economy down. 3/
Anyone with halfway decent credentials who is willing to say that economies should open now will have an opportunity to make a new career as a cable pundit. 4/
The idea will be to drive the networks, Sunday shows, news publications & cable into the “both sides equal time” trap. Chris Christie was one effort at this but I assume they can do better. 5/
They need surrogates I guess because there’s only so many ways to say “it’s ok for some people to die” without sounding like an asshole. 6/
Their trick will then be to make it appear that roughly half the smart people are saying “stay closed” but the other half are saying “stay open.”

So what to do? 7/
Meanwhile Trump himself will get a PCR test everyday I’m guessing. 8/
This isn’t an effort at honest balance or discourse. There are of course reasonable arguments for how to consider the economic impact of the pandemic. And how to find the safest way to re-open. This is more about the president’s re-election prospects. 9/
Georgia and Texas are seen as a test.

So far the early answer to the rest seems to be “shorter hair, more dead people, and governors whose refrain will now change to ‘personal responsibility.’”

H/T @renurayasam of @politico 10/
The next play we’ve seen run? The Executive order.

Pick a business in a key state:
-North Carolina. Furniture making. Expect the Federal government to order massive new furniture for government agencies.
-Michigan: expect an EO for incentives for vehicle trade-ins 11/
And of course de-regulation. Like when we deregulated nursing home regulations in November. Expect an EO field day. 2017. 12/
All that May sound a little par for the course election year stuff. Add to that the power of the Defense Production Act which Trump was slow to use to protect the country but more than happy to use to keep workers coming to unsafe meat processing plants. 13/
These things are all political tools. And dismissing experts, using executive power, and catering to businesses is an area of comfort with him.

Makes me wonder what would happen if that productive energy was put towards the actual Task Force Reopen plan. 14/
Bipartisanship in Congress will also be tested when Pelosi sends the House CARES 2 bill over the Mitch McConnell. Pelosi will suggest they do this bill as they’ve don’t the past 4, completely bipartisan. 15/
Expect McConnell to reject the bill as an “AOC special”, a campaign document, a “giveaway to the states”, dead on arrival, & harmful to the economy.

He will then say the Senate needs to start from scratch. 16/
From what I’ve seen of the House bill, there’s a lot of pragmatic stuff.
-testing & contact tracing
-fixing the food supply
-ensuring the country’s Rx drug supply
-support for state budgets

Negotiation? Or do over?17/
I haven’t talked to a Republican or a Democrat that doesn’t think we need to invest more & more in testing. And now.

A do-over means we will be past Memorial Day before we have a reasonable shot at something. It’s not like anything urgent is happening in May. 18/
But while the president tries to stimulate the economy in his “8 states”, those states will be starving for state money. 19/
At the same time Democrats will look at the people most threatened and indeed dying from this political shift away from health care— seniors & people with pre-existing conditions— and make sure what they see as Trump’s callousness speaks for itself. 20/
The only people who will show more footage of Trump than his campaign will be his opponents. 21/
But while the devolution to the campaign season seems inevitable, Americans will feel abandoned by business as usual as we die in record numbers. 22/
The economy doesn’t come back until the death toll slows. It won’t matter how many cable TV pundits you throw at this.

The better path is to do the actual job in front of us to safely open up with testing in place. Then watch the economy come back. 23/
Maybe these tricks are political genius. Maybe there’s an executive order that’s going to change voters’ minds in battle ground states. But it also means this traumatic period will be needlessly prolonged. 24/
Hear @RonaldKlain & @davidfrum both discuss whether there’s a political “rabbitt in the hat” on #inthebubble.

All I can say is Americans don’t need distractions. They need actions. /end
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