Economist Jeffrey Sachs: Trump “Understands Nothing, Listens to Nothing” as Pandemic Surges in U.S.

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As #NotDying4WallStreet trends on Twitter, President Trump defies his top scientists and soaring infection rate, saying he will ease restrictions soon to jump-start the economy. We speak with economist Jeffrey Sachs about the stimulus package that failed to pass again Monday, as Democrats called the measure a slush fund for corporations.

Sachs also led the WHO’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health from 2000 to 2001 and played a key role in conceiving and establishing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which helped distribute new medicines to fight infectious diseases.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: After four days of negotiations on Monday, Senate Democrats stopped Republicans from advancing a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that critics say is a massive bailout for corporate America, that does little to aid hard-hit workers amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich tweeted in response that, quote, “Senate Dems were right to reject this corporate bailout,” and noted it, quote, “Creates a $500B slush fund for corporations that [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin has complete control over,” and “Provides only a one-time $1200 check and just $600 for those who need it most.” This is Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy speaking on the Senate floor ahead of the vote on the stimulus package.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY: It may make a lot of people rich, but it doesn’t have the resources in it today to take care of the most vulnerable in this country, and it’s not going to do their primary job at hand, which is to stop the virus.

AMY GOODMAN: When asked who would provide oversight for the corporate bailouts at Monday night’s press briefing, President Trump responded, “I’ll be the oversight.” This comes as the hashtag #NotDying4WallStreet is trending on Twitter. As recorded COVID-19 fatalities in the United States exceeded 100 for the first time Monday, Trump said America will be “open for business very soon.” He suggested the U.S. could dramatically change its approach to handling the pandemic.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem. At the end of the 15-day period, we’ll make a decision as to which way we want to go, where we want to go, the timing. And essentially, we’re referring to the timing of the opening, essentially the opening of our country.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, calls are mounting to allow remote voting for lawmakers in Washington so they can avoid gathering and potentially spreading the coronavirus. You know, Senator Rand Paul, for example, has already tested positive for COVID-19 and was seen, just a few hours before the announcement came, swimming in the Senate pool. House Democrats Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar have unveiled a bill to cancel $30,000 for all student debts during the coronavirus crisis. The Labor Department is expected to report a record-breaking 3 million Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment next week. The U.S. unemployment rate could hit 30% in the coming weeks and months.

For more, we’re joined by Jeffrey Sachs, leading economist, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Interestingly, he also led the World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health from 2000 to 2001, playing a key role in conceiving and establishing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which helped distribute new medicines to fight infectious diseases. He’s the author of a number of books, including A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism. His forthcoming book, The Ages of Globalization, joining us by Democracy Now! stream. And, of course, Juan Gonza’lez co-hosting from his home in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Jeffrey Sachs, thanks so much for joining us.

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