It was a poor choice of words that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin used to describe his primary marching orders as the coronavirus outbreak was forcing doctors in overwhelmed hospitals around the world to become ad-hoc “death panels” as they decide which patients’ lives to try to save amidst shortages of basic medical equipment like respirators and masks.
Secretary Mnuchin was appearing on CBS‘s Face The Nation this morning while trying to convince host Margaret Brennan that $1200 would be enough cash to see Americans through 10 weeks of unemployment as the economy shuts down in the face of an unprecedented number of quarantine orders across the nation.
“I think the entire package provides economic relief overall for about 10 weeks,” Mnuchin explained. “Hopefully we will kill this virus quicker and we won’t need it, but we have liquidity to put into the American economy to support American workers and American business.”
While simple math will tell you that the figure Mnuchin feels will be sufficient to sustain people during the 10 weeks of the extended shutdown that he envisions works out to just $17 per day — a paltry sum in most major metropolitan areas that could barely cover food, much less clothing, shelter, and other basic necessities — wealthy, out of touch Republicans are so divorced from reality that they are patting themselves on their backs for their merciful generosity to the peons whom they usually ignore until election time.
As Brennan pressed the Treasury Secretary for details of when the Trump administration would be looking at additional financial assistance for the average American if the quarantines extend beyond the Memorial Day deadline that Mnuchin mentioned as a new arbitrary alternative to the president’s wishful thinking target of Easter, the Treasury Secretary was evasive and used the unfortunate phraseology that should be best avoided as talk of “death panels” to determine who is allowed access to limited ventilators and who is left to suffer and die abounds amidst America’s over-crowded hospitals.
“Well, my main focus is now executing,” Mnuchin said in a morbid turn of phrase. “We have everybody within Treasury and the adminsistration working round the clock to get this money out quickly, since it doesn’t do people any good if it takes a long time.”
Mnuchin went on to say that the administration was consulting medical experts on when it would be safe to reopen the nation’s businesses and would go back to Congress to seek additional assistance for the American economy. Notedly, he promised to seek more support for the economy, not the people.
While Secretary Mnuchin’s job is to oversee the economy, not to save American lives, perhaps he should avoid framing his responsibilities by using terms like “executing.”
There are enough conspiracy theories floating around regarding the supposedly deliberate release of the deadly virus to cull the old and infirm from the population to reduce the economic drag that they place upon society that we don’t need any ill-considered words from the Secretary of the Treasury to add fuel to those baseless rumors.
You can watch a clip of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s appearance on CBS‘s Face The Nation in the video excerpt below.
Original reporting by David Edwards at RawStory.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.