With the coronavirus crisis threatening to potentially hurt the American economy and harm President Donald Trump’s chances for re-election, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has laid the blame on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for poorly coordinated the strategy to respond to it, four individuals familiar with the matter told Politico on Monday.
A major point of friction between the White House and Azar has reportedly been funding the response, with various officials arguing that the amount for the emergency package should be anywhere between $1 billion and $5 billion.
The administration, however, has denied there is disagreement on the issue and defended Azar’s response.
Public health organizations have criticized the administration for not moving more quickly, with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and three other groups writing that major investments are needed “to assist in this global health security challenge, which is directly impacting our nation’s health.”
Others said the administration’s significant cuts to pandemic preparedness have left the country less ready to deal with an outbreak, Politco reported.
After the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 1,000 points on Monday and the number of coronavirus cases went up sharply in several advanced nations, Stephen Moore, a distinguished visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and 2016 Trump campaign adviser, said the president’s “re-election effort is so closely tied to the strength of the stock market and the economy. Anything that shakes us off of that pro-growth track is a concern."
In addition, Trump policy aides worry that the spread of the coronavirus will harm manufacturers, airlines, automakers and tech companies, and that the administration has few economic tools it can use to lessen the impact.
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