Republican talking points on the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus has taken a morbid turn over the past few days. Though early last week, the GOP dominated the messaging over welfare benefits that would have seemed unimaginable in February — benefits designed to encourage Americans to stay at home and reduce the risk of transmission — Trump and other Party leaders are now pushing to reopen the economy as early as next week despite public health experts’ advice that such an action would jeopardize millions of Americans before the country even faces the worst of the pandemic.
Trump’s push for a return for normalcy can be boiled down to his repeated call that “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.” To help clarify the argument, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick went on Fox News on Monday night, where he suggested to Tucker Carlson that an America without social distancing — or a good chunk of the population over 65 — would be preferred to one in which Americans continue to protect each other by remaining at home:
“No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, ‘Are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in … I just think there’s lots of grandparents out there in this country like me — I have six grandchildren — that what we all care about and what we love more than anything are those children. I want to live smart and see through this. But I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed and that’s what I see.”
“Those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves,” Patrick, who is 69, added. After the lieutenant governor’s bizarre vow, Carlson wanted to make sure he had it all correct: “So you’re basically saying that this disease could take your life but that’s not the the scariest thing to you. There’s something that would be worse than dying.” Patrick agreed with his summary.
Putting aside the general message that death would be a better option than a loss on a quarterly statement, there are a couple points to address: New data shows that up to a fifth of those infected that range in age from 20 to 44 require hospitalization, deflating Patrick’s claim that only senior Americans face significant risks by reopening the economy. And as of 2018, 2.6 million children were being raised directly by their grandparents — caretakers who may not agree with Patrick’s suggestion of mass geriatric sacrifice.