CNN anchor Jake Tapper laughed and shook his head on Sunday morning when White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow insisted that the United States is “learning to deal” with the novel coronavirus in a “safe” way, noting that virus infections have been surging across the country.
Appearing on Sunday’s State of the Union to discuss the Trump administration’s attempt to restart stimulus deal talks after President Donald Trump announced last week that he was killing negotiations, Kudlow tried to thread a needle by saying the economy had already rebounded sharply but that additional stimulus was still needed.
“It’s a question of not so much the election per se,” Kudlow declared. “I know this is a political season, I get that, it’s just getting Americans through a difficult period of time. We have seen a flood of blockbuster improvement numbers across the board on the economy but there is really no reason why we can’t add to that with some additional assistance in the next three months and I think you can get a deal.”
Tapper asked whether the Trump aide felt that a stimulus package needed to be passed quickly in order to prevent job losses, and Kudlow said he didn’t “think the recovery is dependent on it” while boasting about “really strong numbers” in the manufacturing industry.
“Mark Zandi of Moody’s says if a stimulus bill isn’t passed soon, the country is going to start shedding jobs again,” Tapper retorted.
Kudlow dismissed the analysis by describing Zandi as a “naysayer when it comes to Republican policies” before reiterating his belief that the economy is currently in a “strong rebound.” He then waved off concerns about the sustained impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 215,000 Americans.
“We are learning to deal with the virus in a targeted, safe, prevented way,” he proclaimed, prompting a laughing Tapper to interject.
“No, we’re not,” the CNN anchor exclaimed, adding: “We are not learning to live with the virus, Larry. We had four days in a row of 50,000 infections and the death rate is the highest in the world.”
Kudlow, of course, is the same person who confidently said back in February that the United States government had “contained” the virus “pretty close to airtight.” The country has suffered through over seven million infections since those comments. The economist also referred to the pandemic in the past tense during this summer’s Republican National Convention, implying that the United States had already moved past it.
Towards the end of the interview, Tapper brought up the president’s insistence on resuming public rallies and White House events after his recent hospitalization for COVID-19, noting that there was likely a “super-spreader” event at the White House last month.
“As somebody who likes you and wants you to live a long, long life I hope you stay safe but I don’t know if the people at the White House are as concerned about people who work at the White House and Trump’s own supporters as I am,” the CNN host stated. “It’s not safe to have big rallies!”
“There will be masks at these rallies,” Kudlow asserted. “There will be social distancing at these rallies. There will be appropriate testing. A lot of these places, you get tested on the way in. Most of all we have to stick to the hygiene issues, washing your hands and face, and so forth. These things can be done. We can do that.”