Katrina Moment


The Coronavirus appears to be Trump’s Katrina moment, where the pandemic is exposing the rank incompetence of his administration.

If you’ll recall from the way-back machine, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that the Bush Administration’s neoconservative ideology was a serious problem. Katrina, a Category 3 storm, had smashed into the Gulf South, and people were drowning. Meanwhile, the president of the United States played guitar in San Diego, then flew over the disaster site at 30,000 feet. Even W’s most stalwart supporters cringed at his disconnect from reality.

Republicans have run against government since forever, but when they are in charge this ideology becomes a real problem. It turns out that the American people like competent government, especially when disaster strikes.

Meanwhile, Trump managed to make a bad situation worse with his speech the other night. No serious detail on what to do to save lives, save the lame idea of a travel ban from Europe, which means efectively flights to Europe too.

It appears that the Trump administration only started to care when the Dow Jones plummeted. Don’t expect them to call for a shutdown as that will cost their donor’s some money. It certainly appears that goosing stocks is all that our feral elite really care about despite their arguments otherwise. All the ‘solutions we are seeing from the powers that be are reminiscent of the great financial crisis. Bailing out Wall Street while structural issues surrounding allocation of resources remain. Where are the hospital beds, ICUs, doctors, medical equipment and vaccine R&D?

The American public is starting to notice this indifference. Even Republicans are starting to question the president’s actions in response to the pandemic.

This has been a long time coming. Republicans have had a nice scam going where they could campaign against the incompetence of government, then in power they could work industriously at making it so. I’ve likened them to termites, burrowing away at the foundations of our republic.

But the gig is just about up.

Trump could totally own the neoliberal Democrats if he were to revert to the populist he campaigned as. Imagine if he broke from Republican orthodoxy and offered up a robust fiscal stimulus plan rather than his offer of a payroll tax cut, which is largely a stealth attack on Social Security?

Neoliberal Democrats would shit themselves. Indeed the former party of labor has abandoned any notions of good governance to the alter of the market, where we shouldn’t expect much but economic management from government, and that citizens are meant to be unleashed into unemcumbered markets.

An effective stimulus would have to help the small and medium sized businesses that are sure to suffer from a prolonged economic downturn. This stimulus would also have to aid Americans who don’t work or are part of the gig economy. This would reduce the number of unnecessary personal and corporate bankruptcies, make sure people have money to keep spending even if they are not working. A side benefit of this would be to subsidise the sort of self-quarantine that is needed to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Unfortunately, the probability is that both the neoconservative Republicans and neoliberal Democrats will rally around a stimulus plan that helps their true constituents–the banks and powerful corporations that fund their reelection campaigns. I have a bad feeling that any government largesse will flow to the usual suspects similar to the response to the Wall Street Crash of 2008, where the banksters were bailed out while homeowners were left to twist slowly in the wind.

Despite the corporate media’s focus on primaries, voting and the personalities of the candidates, politics is truly about who gets what and who pays the price for these policies.

I’m afraid the pandemic is going to offer the American people an objective lesson in this fundamental dynamic.


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