Trump adviser Stephen Moore on an economic reopening: Do it now
Advice to the president: “These are very tough decisions that the president has to make. I’ve told him in person, ‘Mr. President, this is your Churchillian moment. You have to rise to the occasion here.'”
Need to reopen: “The rate of infection to the economy is very similar to the rate of infection of this disease.”
Anthony Fauci: “Fauci, he made this comment a week or two ago that still sticks in my craw, where he said, ‘I’m sorry about economic inconvenience of this.’ And that’s just an insulting thing to say. This is not an inconvenience; this is a calamity.”
Civil liberties: “It’s interesting to me that the right has become more the Rosa Parks of the world than the left is.”
As states with few COVID-19 cases begin to consider loosening restrictions, Stephen Moore, an outside economic adviser to President Trump, believes the administration has waited too long re-start America’s economic engine.
“I think actually think we should have started this a week or two ago,” Moore told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week’s episode of “The Takeout,” arguing states with smaller numbers of cases, like Idaho, Nebraska, and Iowa, should have already lifted restrictions.
On Tuesday, President Trump named Moore to serve on his bipartisan council of business executives, economists, scholars, and industry leaders, who have been tasked with advising on how to revitalize the nation’s battered economy.
“I think we lean way too much in the direction of keeping the economy shut down to try to save every life, not realizing that we’re causing huge hardship for citizens — again, people at the bottom and businesses — and we’re going to suffer a big loss of living standards because of this,” he said.
While Moore acknowledged that robust testing is essential, he argued the U.S. cannot wait until it becomes more widespread to start reopening the economy.
“I don’t think we can wait two or three or four more weeks for testing….The rate of infection to the economy is very similar to the rate of infection of this disease.”
As for infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become one of the most prominent faces of the administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis, Moore said, “He made this comment a week or two ago that still sticks in my craw, where he said, ‘I’m sorry about economic inconvenience of this.’ And that’s just an insulting thing to say. This is not an inconvenience; this is a calamity…it’s a major, major problem for our economy.”
Moore also criticized the left, which has called for government action against individuals who don’t engage in proper social distancing or refuse to shut down their businesses.
“Where are the civil libertarians on the left? I mean, one of the things that I’ve found most interesting in my 35 years or so in politics and economics is it used to be the left was the — the American Civil Liberties Union — stood up against big government taking away our rights. I’m not hearing a lot of objections of people on the left,” said Moore. “It’s interesting to me that the right has become more the Rosa Parks of the world than the left is.”
The president has been outspoken about his belief that the economy will bounce back quickly. Moore is less sanguine.
“If you think that the economy is gonna be back to normal, it’s not….We all want what’s called a ‘V-shaped recovery.’ We’re going to have a big, swift decline that’s gonna last, in my opinion, at least 3 more months, even if we opened up tomorrow,” he said.
Mr. Trump nominated Moore to serve on the Federal Reserve in 2018, but Moore withdrew from consideration amid criticism of his credentials.
Moore predicted that states will be easing restrictions shortly.
“You’re gonna start to see states opening up on a limited basis in the next two weeks,” said Moore. “They’re gonna kind of go slowly, and I think that’s the right way you do it, you do it on a rolling basis….states can learn from each other. This works, this doesn’t work, it’s gonna be an experimentation process, and let’s just hope and pray that we get it right.”
Moore believes the president should appoint a recovery czar. This individual would handle the logistics of reopening the country that White House officials, including the president, don’t have the capacity to deal with. Moore stressed that this czar should not be a political figure, but rather, a well-known business leader who has the appropriate experience from running a major company — someone like FedEx CEO Fred Smith or Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos should fill this position. Given the president’s frequent displeasure with the Amazon CEO and owner of the Washington Post, Bezos does not seem to be a likely candidate for the job.
For more of Major’s conversation with Moore, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).
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