Washington, D.C.—Today, at a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) hearing on the economic impact of America’s failure to contain coronavirus, Vice Chair Beyer will explain that the primary reason why the economy is in such bad shape is because President Trump failed from the very beginning to implement a coordinated, national plan to contain the coronavirus.

According to Dr. Ashish K. Jha, one of two Democratic witnesses who will testify at the hearing, such a plan could have prevented a majority of American deaths from the coronavirus.

The nation’s top economists almost universally say that the number one priority for the economy is to contain the coronavirus. Former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee, the second Democratic witness, has put it this way: “the number one rule of virus economics is that you have to stop the virus before you can do anything about economics.”

Vice Chair Beyer:

“Tragically, no one person in our country is more responsible than the person who should be leading the fight to contain the coronavirus—the President of the United States.

“President Trump’s record on the coronavirus is a stunning mix of incompetence, ignorance and callous disregard for human life. He has not contained the coronavirus, but has unleashed it. As a result, many more lives will be lost. And in the long term, the economy will suffer.

“The President’s failure to make even the most meager effort to contain the coronavirus is his economic legacy.”

(Vice Chair Beyer’s written opening statement can be found here.)

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health:

“At this most precarious and uncertain time in our nation’s and our world’s history, we owe
it to our fellow citizens to act expeditiously and steadfastly in our quest to end the COVID-19
pandemic.

“Nine months since our first confirmed case, we continue to feel the painful effects of a
disjointed and, at times, absent, federal response to the pandemic in this country. Tens of millions of Americans remain out of work, millions are sick, and hundreds of thousands are dead.

“We have no national testing strategy, receive muddled guidance from our federal health agencies, and our economy is in its worst state since the Great Depression of 1929. Let me be clear: this does not have to continue.”

(Dr. Jha's written testimony can be found here.)

Dr. Austan D. Goolsbee, Robert P. Gwinn Professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business:

“It’s important for everyone to understand that decisions about the economy are not made by mayors and governors and presidents. People make decisions about whether they feel safe and that is what drives the economy. The virus is the boss.

“In my research with Chad Syverson, we got data on consumer visits to 2.5 million businesses across the country in 110 different industries. We wanted to know how important lockdowns were for the unprecedented collapse in consumer activity during the outbreak of the pandemic.

“The problem is, when the disease is spreading, people stay home, the economy craters and the local authorities impose lockdowns. This can make it look like lockdown decisions are driving things but it’s misleading because the policy itself is not the driver. The virus is.”

(Dr. Goolsbee's written testimony can be found here.)

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy.

Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is the Vice Chair.