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Trump Wants to Reopen the Economy Because He’s Panicking About Reelection Polls

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10.04.2020

Progressive voters have spent weeks hand-wringing about the small polling bump President Trump received for appearing to take the coronavirus seriously, even berating cable-news networks for airing his briefings, which supposedly gave him the benefit of uninterrupted airtime. Ironically, Trump’s own advisers are upset about the same briefings. The New York Times reports that Republicans have been pleading with the president to scale them back, arguing that Trump “was handing Mr. Biden ammunition each night.” Trump’s internal campaign polling shows that the president has “mostly lost the initial bump he received early in the crisis.” New public polls from ABC and CBS show the same decline.

That political desperation is the context to understand Trump’s palpable desire to reopen the economy by May 1 or sooner. Trump has been publicly oozing impatience with his current policy for days, and The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post have new reporting that suggests the money wing is once again regaining the upper hand over public-health officials within the administration. Trump “regularly looks at unemployment and stock market numbers, complaining that they are hurting his presidency and reelection prospects,” reports the Post. He is reversing course, not because of any public-health reason, but because he is losing the election.

Trump has repeatedly expressed his desire to “reopen” the economy, but it’s not clear exactly what this means, or what he can do about it. Governors and mayors have issued the orders shutting down public spaces. Trump can’t overrule those, though if he wants to pry them open, he does have some tools: He can urge his supporters to........

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