How do you explain the seriousness of the current health crisis in the United States? Was the US healthcare system particularly vulnerable or was it a Trump administration bankruptcy?
The health crisis has hit the world, not just the United States, and it is serious everywhere.
The most astonishing thing was the lack of preparation of the rulers of the planet, all the governments, who did not secure their rear, while the modeling had foreseen such a crisis for quite some time. In a lecture given in 2015, for example, Bill Gates suggested the imminent appearance of an uncontrollable pandemic and said he was convinced that this was the greatest scourge that the world had to prepare for.
That said, Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis has been disastrous. He was notified on January 3 and chose to ignore the warnings. Of course, the health and medical services set up an immediate response, in particular by controlling the temperature of passengers coming from Wuhan from the end of January; but Donald Trump’s political speech deceived the public. By favoring appeasement, it contributed to a lack of public interest in the health directives that were starting to be disseminated. Worse, by explaining at a meeting in Phoenix that it was “an intoxication invented by the Democrats”, to harm him, once again, he led many of his supporters in an attitude of rejection of these same health information. The denial lasted too long, 70 days, and contributed to a larger and faster spread of this virus.
Bernie Sanders has just dropped the Democratic nomination contest in the next presidential election. His ambitious health proposals weren’t enough to get him back on track against Joe Biden. Do you think, however, that his two campaigns will have helped to change American mentalities, especially on subjects related to public health?
One cannot discount the idea that the magnitude of the misfortune that is afflicting the United States does not lead to a deep demand for the overhaul or reform of the existing health care system. This still seems difficult to imagine in April, given the political climate and the distribution of forces in the two chambers. But everything is now possible for the future. Certainly, Joe Biden’s program will draw more strongly than the centrist candidate himself had anticipated in that of Bernie Sanders, without ever going so far as to resume the idea of a universal system with a single payer, which he has already repeatedly dismissed in advance.
Bernie Sanders ’legacy’ may be limited to that at first. But, as Joe Biden immediately noted, he was the spokesperson for a “movement” which is deeply rooted now, and rests on the younger generations and especially Generation Z: their political desires are different from their elders, more inclusive and more generous. This will change the American political landscape and the future supply of Democrats, whether they win or lose the next election.
This health crisis will be followed by an economic crisis that many imagine to be particularly violent. How do you view the Trump administration’s economic response to the Coronavirus crisis?
I think Donald Trump is lost. But who would not be in his place? And is it different elsewhere? The crisis is initially monumental, but above all it is completely new. Leaders must invent solutions and show courage. Donald Trump is like the others. He changes his mind, often elsewhere, on many points, but is justified by explaining that he constantly reassesses the gravity of the situation. Because the situation is indeed serious, unprecedented and complex: it is an attitude which cannot be accused of him and he knows it too. He let his entourage make the announcements on the details and put on the costume of the protector of the nation. He has put himself above the parties and praises bipartisan action. The law negotiated with Nancy Pelosi gave him a tremendous opportunity and he did not let it pass. He suspended his campaign and gave up an advertising campaign against Joe Biden, which was already ready to be launched, with slots that had already been reserved on the air. Jerome M. Adams, the Surgeon General of the United States – the equivalent of the National Director of Health – hit the nail on the head: “We are no longer in the era of partisan struggles and we must all work hand in hand. to overcome this crisis. ”
Finally, the plans are linked and it is not clear where and when it will stop. For the United States it started with a 2.5 billion plan; which was raised to 8.5 billion by Congress; then there was this incredible CARES law of 2,200 billion; and that is not enough. Today a new plan, evaluated between 250 and 375 billion in favor of SMIs and SMEs, is discussed in Congress, while the Democrats are already asking for an additional 100 billion in favor of hospitals. It is clear that both the urgency of the moment and the fear of a strong and lasting recession motivate all leaders.
Donald Trump obviously does not have all the powers given the fact that the United States is a Federal Republic. Are states divided on the response to the crisis?
That is true. In particular, Donald Trump lacks the police powers in the daily lives of Americans, which would allow him to apply decisions in the various states. His are very limited by the federal constitution. But he still has a wide range of powers, particularly through the powers of the national emergency, which he unleashed in March.
The problem is that this is a major political issue in the United States, namely the distribution of powers between the federated states and the central power. It’s a question as old as this republic, which already pitted Adams and Jefferson against each other. The feud with the governors must be read through this lens, because it tells us a lot about the type of government that both want to defend. It also reveals through Donald Trump’s hesitations that he does not necessarily know where he himself is with this debate, thus revealing that he is unpolitical; and the presence of a businessman at the head of a country, if he refuses to step out of this unique role, ends up being a dead end.
Media attention is largely focused on the current crisis, but the US presidential election will soon arrive. Does Donald Trump’s balance sheet plead for re-election yet? What are the main indicators to observe?
Joe Biden’s victory is more and more conceivable if we stick to a classic analysis: the economy is crumbling and rescue plans follow one another. From a strategic point of view, Joe Biden also has a huge advantage: he occupies the center. It is therefore possible for him to more easily attract moderate voters in the other camp. The polls also do not plead for a victory for Donald Trump: this Wednesday they all indicated a comfortable victory for the Democrat: 45-40 for Researchco, 43-37 for Reuters, 44-39 for CNBC, 49-41 for Quinnipiac… What we think of polls so early in the race, we must however consider that they all indicate that the dynamics are in one camp. We can also note a real decline in its popularity rating which, after having grazed for the first time 50%, immediately dropped to 45%.
The pandemic, however, has turned the game upside down, making it not only cloudy, but also subject to huge twists and turns, depending on the number of dead, the state of the economy in six months or the state of the nation in the social plan. More importantly: what will the Americans have learned from their president’s crisis management? Not necessarily what we told them.
Never should we have been more humble than today as to the outcome of the next election: the truths of yesterday no longer exist, for now.