A Tale of Two Failures


“Too little, too late.” The Free Dictionary says this idiom means “Inadequate as a remedy and not in time to be effective.” This term originated in the military, where it was applied to reinforcements that were insufficient and arrive too late to be of help. The opposite of this would be “too much too soon” meaning some action or item is provided before it is needed or before it is ready to be helpful and is disproportionately large for the intended purpose. These opposites would seem unlikely to be related to the same situation but they both apply to Donald Trump and his response to the Covid-19 virus. When asked about his response to the impending pandemic, the only action he cites is a partial shutdown of travel from Wuhan, China.

Trump did not take any actions to expand the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). He did not take any action to increase the availability of testing materials, the swabs, the reactants. He was very slow to address the impending shortage of intubators.

By the time these very necessary materials were available, many had already died and the virus had expanded beyond any capability to contain it. Now we know that he did too little to keep himself from getting the virus.

The “too much too soon” applies to how quickly he pushed to lift our responses to limit the continuing spread of the virus. Once a meaningful response occurred, the social distancing, wearing masks, and limiting gathering to only a handful of people, the accelerating curse of growth slowed. Remember the admonition from our health experts that we needed to flatten the curve? The American people did that. The curve not only flattened but started to decrease. Our response was working but was taking an economic toll. Congress passed and Trump signed a stimulus bill to tide over not just the economy but the people affected by it. Democrats wanted a bigger and broader stimulus but met with resistance from Republicans who, after increased our national debt with their ill-advised tax cut for the wealthy but thought any larger stimulus would be too much. But as soon as that happened, Trump pushed for reopening of businesses and encouraged large gatherings, including his own rallies. Trump’s refusal to wear a mask gave encouragement to his base to follow suit. Just when we showed success at responding to the pandemic that Trump allowed to happen through inaction, Trump’s actions caused the rate of spread to rise again.

After seven months, we are still higher than we were when Trump pushed for reopening. After seven months, the need for another stimulus bill is obvious to both parties but they can’t reach an agreement as to the appropriate size. As usual, the Republicans fail to see the need for any help to the States and cities who have born most of the cost of responding to the virus. A sizable chuck of the high unemployment numbers we face today are State and local governments employees who have been laid off because of necessary budget cuts.

If you remember the Bush recession of 2008, President Bush requested a bailout and both parties responded.

Unfortunately. that also was too little too late and President Obama had to request another larger bailout which barely was enough but did work. The money loaned to the auto companies was paid back with interest. In the end, those bailouts cost the American very little.

If another stimulus is big enough, it will pay for itself, too, by bringing back jobs and profits for businesses.

But it probably won’t be big enough.

Republicans are trying to minimize the “cost” and cannot see the long-term benefits. So, Trump and the Republicans have gone from “too little too late” to “too much too soon” and now back to “too little too late.” If we are to adequately address the pandemic and bring our economy back, Democrats will have to win a big victory on November 3rd.

-Dick Gale – Democrats of Hemet

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