“I believe we are going to see a downturn”, Anthony Fauci told NBC Thursday, offering still more hope that America’s viral nightmare may be closer to an end than previously thought.
Projections for the death toll, he said, look “more like 60,000” as opposed to the 100,000 to 200,000 the administration projected previously.
“I don’t want to jump the gun but I think that is the case”, Fauci added, referencing an apparent flattening to the virus curve in New York, the epicenter of the US outbreak.
Hours later, New York City reported just 200 new hospitalizations over the past 24 hours. That is the lowest number since the crisis began.
“Over the last two weeks, the number of virus patients hospitalized has grown more and more slowly, from over 2% per day to single-digit increases this week”, The New York Times writes, adding that the Wednesday-to-Thursday increase was just 1%, meaning that “if the trend continues, the number of people in hospitals will soon start to decline, a sign that the virus has passed its apex”.
Deaths – the most macabre of all lagging indicators – were 799 since yesterday, bringing the total to 7,067. Andrew Cuomo warned against complacency. “Everybody is assuming, well, once we get through this, we’re done”, he remarked. “I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that. This virus has been ahead of us from day one”.
The state now has nearly as many deaths as the UK, where Boris Johnson is apparently doing better, although still in intensive care.
New York City reported 824 fatalities in 24 hours, the most in a day yet. “The city and state take snapshots at different times during the day, which may account for the discrepancy in reporting”, Bloomberg notes.
Spain and Italy both extended lockdowns, while in the US, the Trump administration is reportedly creating a second virus task force which will focus on reopening the economy. It will be headed, rumor has it, by Art Laffer.
For those of you not steeped in economic history, Laffer is a joke – pun both intended and unintended. Virtually no one who doesn’t still wear suspenders with a striped shirt and a white, contrasting collar takes him seriously.
If you’re wondering what Laffer would do in the course of reopening the economy (and the economists among you can probably guess without even hearing from Art), he detailed a “plan” in an interview with Reuters published on Wednesday. To wit:
Republican economist Art Laffer, an architect of the Reagan era tax cuts that paved the way for historic budget deficits in the United States, has a plan to rejuvenate today’s pandemic-crippled economy.
Tax non-profits. Cut the pay of public officials and professors. Give businesses and workers who manage to hold on to their jobs a payroll tax holiday to the end of the year.
What about the extra aid funneled to newly jobless workers by the $2.3 trillion fiscal rescue package? Such government spending, Laffer told Reuters in an interview, will only serve to deepen the downturn and slow the recovery.
“If you tax people who work and you pay people who don’t work, you will get less people working,” Laffer said. “If you make it more unattractive to be unemployed, then there’s an incentive to go look for another job faster.”
To make things more fair, he said, government should impose levies on nonprofit educational, arts and other institutions.
Laffer told Reuters he’s presented his plan to Larry Kudlow, who Reuters notes “considers Laffer a mentor”. In 2018, Laffer wrote a truly silly piece of propaganda with supply-side sock puppet Stephen Moore called “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy”.
Moore is not an economist. Neither is Kudlow.
Moore and Laffer have jointly written multiple columns for the Wall Street Journal, including a piece called “It’s Trump’s Economy Now“, which is generally indicative of the sycophantic tone the two men are prone to opportunistically adopting. It was, you’re reminded, a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed which Kudlow used to convince Trump to float Moore for a seat on the Fed board. That effort crashed and burned and was eventually aborted after it became apparent to Trump that virtually everyone (including some Republicans) considered the idea of Moore on the Fed to be wholly ridiculous.
On Tuesday, in a complete coincidence, Sean Hannity called for Laffer (along with Moore) to be appointed to a committee tasked with reopening the economy. In fact, Hannity’s Tuesday show echoes what’s reportedly going on at the White House nearly to the last detail. Here is the transcript of Hannity’s remarks from April 6:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Tonight, I want to make one thing clear as we begin: We will get through this. We are the United States of America. And as we do, we need to also remember that the cure cannot be worse than the crisis itself. We cannot put paralyzing panic and over-practical precautions above Americans working. When now practical. Now what does that mean? It means getting this country back to work, doing what we do best as soon and as safely as possible. It means doing everything we can do to find treatments and a cure, and like I’ve said, the idea of an economic task force seems like the right path to me. Bring in the minds like Art Laffer and Steve Moore and businessmen and women who understand Wall Street and main street.
“The minds” – one can only chuckle.
Last year, Trump awarded Laffer the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing his “renowned economic theory, public service and contributions to policy [that] have helped spur prosperity for our Nation”.
Now that, folks, is a real “laugher”.