Kudlow calls Obama criticism of Trump coronavirus response ‘so darn political’

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday pushed back against Barack Obama’s criticism of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying that he didn’t know what the former president was “talking about.”

During a private call with members of the Obama Alumni Association on Friday, Obama called the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis an “absolute chaotic disaster,” arguing that it was a product of a “what’s in it for me” mentality, according to a recording obtained by Yahoo News.

Asked to respond to the comments on ABC’s “This Week,” Kudlow said Obama’s comments sounded “so darn political to me.” 

“With all due respect to the former president, and I really don’t want to get into a political back-and-forth, I just don’t know what he’s talking about,” Kudlow said, asserting that the Trump administration had effectively worked with governors, Congress and the private sector to address the crisis. 

He argued that the administration was relying “heavily on the smartest people in this country” to respond to the pandemic and that it had resulted in an increase in testing supplies and medical equipment. He also cited President Trump’s use of the Defense Production Act to compel automobile companies to produce ventilators, claiming that the corporations were now manufacturing them at a “rapid rate.”

“What we’ve done may not be 100 percent perfect,” Kudlow said. “But the overall picture is we’ve created a massive health and safety infrastructure to deal with the pandemic here. And judging from the results, where there has been a flattening in the rate of the growth in infection rates and mortality rates, it’s working, so we’re preparing to reopen the economy.”

The U.S. economy should experience a “very strong” comeback in the second half of the year, Kudlow added.

The U.S. has reported more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and roughly 79,200 deaths from it, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. 

The outbreak caused governors around the country to introduce stay-at-home orders, leading numerous schools and businesses to abruptly close. The unemployment rate jumped to nearly 15 percent in April as a result, with more than 20 million Americans losing jobs. 

Obama’s comments on Friday marked the most critical assessment he’s offered about the White House’s coronavirus response. Among other things, he said the 2020 election is “so important because what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party.”

“What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life,” he said.

He also remarked that the Trump administration’s “what’s in it for me” mindset contributed to an “anemic and spotty” response to a global crisis. 

“It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ … is operationalized in our government,” he added. “That’s why, I, by the way, am going to be spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can for Joe Biden.”

Obama had previously called out the Trump administration in April for the lack of a “coherent national plan.” Several governors and Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly criticized Trump over the lack of a uniform strategy to help states get critical medical equipment and testing supplies during the crisis.

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Joe Biden Larry Kudlow

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