President Trump gave a combative, mind-bending, fact-twisting interview to “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. In the interview, which aired Sunday, Trump made a number of comments that generated controversy or strained credulity. He suggested he might not accept the election results if Joe Biden wins. He insisted, without evidence, that Biden wants to defund the police. He criticized “cancel culture” and the push to rename army bases named for Confederate generals. And he defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and downplayed the severity of it, attacking his own health experts and blaming increased testing for the surge in cases.
“Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test,” he said. “Many of them — don't forget, I guess it's like 99.7 percent, people are going to get better and in many cases they’re going to get better very quickly.”
In short, Trump said a lot, and a lot that was misleading or wrong. “Trump — whom aides say no longer attends coronavirus task force meetings because he does not have time — showed himself to be particularly misinformed about the basics of the virus that has been ravaging the nation for more than four months,” The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez reported. Read more about the interview here, here or here.
On the fiscal and health policy fronts, here’s what else stood out:
Another threat to withhold funding from schools that don’t reopen: “Young people have to go to school, and there’s problems when you don’t go to school, too,” Trump said. “And there’s going to be a funding problem because we’re not going to fund – when they don’t open their schools. We’re not going to fund them. We’re not going to give them money if they’re not going to school. If they don’t open.” When Wallace pointed out that federal funding accounts for a relatively small percentage of overall school funding, and that money “goes overwhelmingly to disadvantaged kids and children with disabilities,” Trump said that statistics show people under 18 are at low risk of dying.
Liability protections and a payroll tax cut in the next coronavirus bill: Trump insisted that the next coronavirus relief bill should protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits and said he wants a payroll tax cut. “I’ll have to see but, yeah, I would consider not signing it if we don’t have a payroll tax cut,” he said.
Trump promised a health care plan in two weeks: Asked why it makes sense for his administration to support a lawsuit seeking to overturn Obamacare in the midst of the pandemic, Trump pledged to protect those with pre-existing conditions and quickly sign a replacement plan, even though there is none in the works. “We're signing a health care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health care plan that the Supreme Court decision on DACA gave me the right to do,” he said. “So we're going to solve -- we're going to sign an immigration plan, a health care plan, and various other plans. And nobody will have done what I'm doing in the next four weeks.”
Sahil Kapur of NBC News noted: “The president does not currently have a health care plan; the White House and congressional Republicans say they aren’t crafting one; and even if they attempted it their preferences are light years from anything the Democratic-run House would accept.”