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7 Republican leaders pushing Americans to risk their lives for the economy

Republican lawmakers want to reopen the country’s economy. They admit doing so will lead to more loss of life.

By Emily Singer - May 06, 2020
Steven Mnuchin

A growing number of Republicans across the country are calling on states to end the stay-at-home orders put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

And they’re urging them to reopen even though they openly admit that reopening will lead to more deaths.

Donald Trump has led the chorus of Republicans who are tired of social distancing. Stay-at-home orders have helped states like New York flatten the curve of the virus outbreak, but at the same time have decimated the economy, leading to more than 30 million job losses.

Here are seven Republicans who have said business should resume while the coronavirus continues to spread.

Donald Trump

Trump has wanted the country’s economy open since Easter.

On May 5, during a visit to a Honeywell mask factory in Arizona, he admitted that reopening the economy will lead people to get sick.

I’m viewing our great citizens of this country to a certain extent and to a large extent as warriors. They’re warriors. We can’t keep our country closed. We have to open our country, Trump said, adding, “Will some people be badly affected? Yes.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

Mnuchin encouraged Americans to travel around the country, even though the virus is spreading and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to avoid nonessential travel.

 “It’s a great time for people to explore America. A lot of people haven’t seen many parts of America. I wish I could get back on the road soon,” Mnuchin said Monday on Fox Business.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Abbott is reopening his state’s government. But he admitted that it will lead to more deaths, according to a private call he had with members of the Texas state legislature and Congress that was obtained by the Daily Beast. 

“Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening — whether you want to call it a reopening of businesses or of just a reopening of society — in the aftermath of something like this it actually will lead to an increase in spreads,” Abbott can be heard saying on a recording of the call posted by the Daily Beast. “It’s almost ipso facto.”

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD)

During a House hearing on May 6, Harris argued social distancing measures were too extreme and recommendations that states not reopen without robust contact tracing were unnecessary.

He suggested that any risk of illness or death involved in any decisions on reopening the economy were simply the cost of living.

“We’re safer if we’re not born. We’re safer from death if we’re not born, right?” Harris said at the hearing. “I mean the bottom line is there’s some element of risk.”

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

Parson urged Missouri residents to leave their homes and make a “special effort” to go shopping in retail stores rather than online in an effort to help jump-start the state economy.

As he allows businesses in Missouri to reopen, Parson hasn’t imposed any social distancing measures such as occupancy limits.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Patrick wants the country to reopen for business, and has argued that older people should risk their lives for the economy.

“Let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it,” Patrick told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on March 23. “And those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”

Patrick made that same argument again on Carlson’s program on April 20.

“There are more important things than living, and that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us,” Patrick said.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)

Kennedy for weeks has been urging governors to reopen their state economies, even though he admits that doing so will lead to more deaths.

He’s argued numerous times on Fox News that poverty is more likely to kill Americans than the virus is, and therefore the country needs to open back up.

“For a small segment of our population, it’s true, the coronavirus can kill you. For a small segment,” Kennedy told Carlson on March 23. “But you know what else can kill you? Poverty. Hunger. Losing the entire economy.”

Kennedy made a similar argument during an April 9 appearance on Fox News.

“The coronavirus can kill you, but so can poverty, and we have waterboarded the American economy, and we gotta stand it back up,” he said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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