The Coming Great(er) Depression.

In the US, we are quickly approaching 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 combined with 36 percent unemployment. The losses have been staggering – akin to combining the pandemic of 1918 with the Great Depression of the 1930s. Even “reopening” the economy is unlikely to change our future other than accelerating the death rate.

At this point, we have no reliable treatment for COVID-19. No vaccine. No equitable answer for unemployment. And inadequate safety nets.

But, by far, our greatest deficiency is leadership at the national level. So far, our “Dear Leader” and wannabe dictator has only led us to the abyss. Instead of preparing for a pandemic, he ignored the playbook given him by his successor and dismantled our response team. Instead of reacting to the onset of the pandemic in China, he dismissed it as the Wuhan flu. When the first cases appeared on our shores, he dismissed it as a partisan hoax. As the pandemic spread, he abdicated his responsibility and placed it in the laps of state governments. And he continues to claim that “no one could have handled it better.”

Really? Let’s look at his administration’s response.

He and his incompetent underlings stated that the national stockpile of medical supplies was the federal government’s – that states would have to find their own sources of ventilators and personal protection equipment (PPE). They even ignored a US manufacturer who had the manufacturing capability to make millions of N95 masks before the pandemic spread. All the manufacturer needed were government assurances and federal funds to restart his production lines that had been forced to close by lower cost foreign competition.

As a result, states were forced to engage in bidding wars for equipment – much of it substandard – often against the federal government. At the same time, large federal supplies of masks held by TSA went unused. In the meantime, healthcare providers were left to treat COVID-19 patients without proper protection, resulting in unneeded stress and, in some case, unnecessary deaths. And their reward from Dandy Donnie? He accused them of hoarding or wasting masks, shields, and gowns.

He continued to treat the pandemic as a partisan issue, using it to further divide our nation. He called for the economy to reopen while deaths soared. He took the advice of his propagandists on Fox News against his own medical advisors to promote unproven drugs as a “cure” for COVID-19. He also suggested that COVID might be treated by injecting or ingesting disinfectants or somehow getting ultraviolet light inside patients!

Only when the polls showed him trailing his political rival did he begin to take the pandemic seriously.

Nevertheless, he continues to push for Americans to go back to work despite the danger. He ordered meat-processing plants to stay open as more and more of their employees tested positive for the virus. His administration failed to provide guidance for safety measures leaving employees exposed. Yet, he quickly enacted safety measures for his own place of employment when one of his staff tested positive for the coronavirus. It seems he expects other Americans to risk their lives to restore the economy to improve his re-election prospects.

But the economy isn’t coming back soon.

It’s painfully obvious that Donald J. Trump is completely unsuited for dealing with a crisis, especially one that demands reason and science. He can’t bully a virus. He can’t sue it or con it. It won’t succumb to his vulgar threats. Sure, he can rile up his base into a frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy. He can expect Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh and his other propagandists to create distractions and more conspiracy theories. He can continue to try to place the blame on others. And he can expect Vladimir Putin to meddle in our elections. But creating more anger, more hatred, more division, more racism will not end the pandemic and bring back our economy.

The only thing that can save us now is real leadership. Something that is sorely lacking in the White House and in the GOP.

Growth Of The “Moocher” Class.

During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney was famously caught on camera talking about the 47 percent he claimed pay no taxes. That led to the conservative media referring to the 47 percent as the  “moocher” class; those people whose votes could be bought with promises of free “stuff,” such as food stamps, unemployment insurance and access to healthcare.

According to a new survey exclusive to The Associated Press, Romney had the numbers wrong. The survey shows that 80 percent of adults in the US face near-poverty and unemployment at some point in their lives. You read that correctly…80 percent!

In addition, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 22 percent of Americans have been significantly affected by the sequester budget cuts. And those who earn less than $30,000 per year have been hardest hit. Moreover, 1 in 6 (50 million) Americans face food insecurity, including 17 million children.

The vast majority of these people work full-time jobs; some work two jobs or more and still can’t make ends meet. Yet conservatives call these people “moochers” and “takers.” Fox News Channel and conservative radio hosts vilify and ridicule the working poor. Instead of placing the blame where it belongs…on greedy corporations and an economy that no longer offers the majority of Americans an opportunity to realize the American Dream…Congressional Teapublicans blame the problem on labor unions, pensions, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They have voted to cut food stamps and unemployment insurance benefits. They have voted 39 times to repeal Obamacare, denying access to healthcare for more than 50 million poor Americans. And, instead of voting to fund projects that would rebuild our infrastructure and create good-paying jobs, they vote to cut taxes for the wealthy.

In the two and a half years since regaining control of the House by promising to focus on jobs, Teapublicans continue to push for budget cuts and to place obstacles in the way of our economic recovery.

As a result of their indifference to the plight of ordinary Americans, our economy continues its slow recovery. We continue to see the loss of good-paying jobs to other countries. We continue to see the loss of pensions and income security for the elderly. And we continue to see a widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Teapublicans are right to talk about the “givers” and “takers” in our society. But they have things backwards. The “givers” are the working people who pay a disproportionate share of their income to taxes, including payroll deductions and sales taxes. And the “takers” are the very wealthy and large corporations who benefit from corporate welfare and record profits.