President Trump promoted his “Opening Our Country Council” as a teleconference-based task force that would consist of “great business leaders” and “great doctors” advising on how to restart the economy from the pandemic shutdown.
But it soon became evident that the exact mission seemed unclear.
The President said insights and suggestions on reopening the economy would come from several committees such as those representing transportation, manufacturing, and faith leaders.
“We have some of the biggest from every business on this council. We’re actually setting up a number of different councils or committees; I guess you could call them. And we have a lot of smart people. I think they will give us some good advice, but we want to be very, very safe,” Trump said. During the same briefing, Trump insisted he would make a decision on reopening the economy and put out new guidelines by the end of the week.
The uncertainty surrounding this new council and its associated committees highlights the White House’s challenge throughout its response to this unprecedented global pandemic.
“The more voices President Trump hears from, the better,” said Dan Eberhart, a major Trump donor and energy executive. “Big industry and the financial sector are important to the economy, and they have the President’s ear. There’s nothing wrong with that — they employee millions. But there’s a lot of other sectors of the economy that are important.”
“Whether it is manufacturing, heavy industry, or small Main Street businesses, we need them all to come back for a healthy economy,” he said. “The CEO gets the soft leather chair, but he’s not always the wisest person in the room.”
On Monday, the White House office issued a statement that President Trump would allow science to guide his thinking on reopening the economy. But, over the weekend, aides failed to point towards any specific benchmarks the administration intended to use to make its decision to relax its social distancing guidelines.
“President Trump’s policies took this economy to record-setting historic highs for all Americans, but this unforeseen, unprecedented crisis has hurt many workers and businesses. The President wants to see this economy open again so people can get back to work, but scientific data will drive the timeline on those decisions because his number one priority is to protect the safety and well-being of the American people,” Judd Deere, the deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement.