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‘We’ve never shut down for mass death’: These 15 Republicans think the elderly should die for the economy

Pennsylvania needs a lot more nurses & contact tracing to safely reopen the economy


The coronavirus crisis has made something we’ve long suspected obvious: the “pro-life” party is anything but.

GOP pundits and politicians have been showing their true colors as they demand that states reopen even amid outbreaks. They care more about the economy than about the workers who fuel it—or about the elderly who are most at risk.

“Big GOP donors want short-term stock gains,” explained Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, “and Trump wants the economy back by Nov 3.”

But Republicans’ callous disregard for people’s health shouldn’t go unnoticed. That’s why we’re keeping a list of all those who have made clear they care more about money than about people’s health—and their lives.

1. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

These 6 devastating ads expose how 'pro-life' hypocrites are eager to let people die from COVID-19 1

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Patrick has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t care that reopening the economy now could lead to people dying.

He started in March, when he went on the Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight, and said,

No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.

In the same appearance, Patrick said that we shouldn’t “sacrifice the country.” He’s totally cool with the elderly being sacrificed, though!

In fact, he’s so cool with that, he straight-up said in an April interview that “there are more important things than living.”

This isn’t a James Bond villain we’re talking about. He’s an elected official, and he’s openly admitting that he cares more about the economy than about the very real chance of people dying.

2. Indiana Representative Trey Hollingsworth

These 6 devastating ads expose how 'pro-life' hypocrites are eager to let people die from COVID-19 4

Screenshot / YouTube

When speaking about reopening the economy, Hollingsworth said,

There is no zero harm choice here. We are going to have look Americans in the eye and say ‘we are making the best decisions for the most Americans possible’ and the answer to that to get Americans back to work, to get Americans back to their businesses… It is policymakers’ decision to put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils. It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils, and we intend to move forward that direction.

As the 12th wealthiest member of Congress, it’s not really that surprising that Hollingsworth cares more about money than about people’s health. He’s all too happy to put on his “big boy pants” and risk some lives if it’ll make his wallet bigger.

3. Radio host Rush Limbaugh: “We’ve never shut down for mass death.”

Dying for the economy: what 15 conservatives say about reopening states right now

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Admittedly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rush Limbaugh cares more about the economy than about people staying healthy. But it’s still rare to hear him lay it out as bluntly as he did on his April 14 show:

Everything happening today is in violation of basic human nature. Everything. We don’t shut down for illness ever! We never have shut down for illness before. We’ve never shut down for mass death. We’ve never done it before. We’ve never shut down on the projection of mass death.

Later in the same broadcast, he said it even plainer: “Death, sadly, is part of the human existence.”

So because it’s unprecedented, and because we’re all going to die anyway, there’s no point trying to keep people away from coronavirus? Sure, Rush. Whatever you say.

4. Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw

Dying for the economy: what 15 conservatives say about reopening states right now 1

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

…and we’re back in Texas. In an interview with Fox’s Jeanine Pirro, Crenshaw said,

You can’t run and hide from the virus forever… At a certain point after our retreat from it, we had to confront it. And you know… we understand who’s vulnerable, who isn’t, we understand how to take personal responsibility and risk-mitigate in every single thing we do.

Of course, as the Wonkette points out, there are a lot of Texans who aren’t risk-mitigating: Austin’s parks were packed after the stay-at-home order expired, with many people there were not wearing masks.

But according to Crenshaw, that’s better than the alternative. His interview with Pirro took a turn for the bizarre as he accused AOC and other House Democrats of wanting everyone to be unemployed:

Whereas [Republicans] want to get people back to a sense of dignity, a sense of working, a sense of providing for themselves. [Democrats] are happy to continue keeping people at home and simply pay them… Eventually, that turns into everyone being a de facto government employee and the economy disappears. There will be no jobs and economy to go back to.

You heard it here: temporarily closing businesses to prevent the spread of coronavirus will make the economy just… disappear. Because that’s how economies work?

5. Twitter personality Ben Shapiro

Dying for the economy: what 15 conservatives say about reopening states right now 2

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Ben Shapiro once pushed the lie that the Affordable Care Act would lead to “death panels” that would deny the elderly medical treatment. So he definitely cares about old people, right?

Spoiler alert: nope. Said Shapiro in a recent interview,

Nobody just wants to say the obvious truth, which is we’re all making actuarial deductions about what are the costs in terms of how many human lives, how many years of life, because that is an actual issue in actuarial tables. If somebody who is 81, dies of Covid-19 that is not the same thing as somebody who is 30 dying of Covid-19.

I mean, if this was killing children, everyone would be in lockdown forever. That’s the reality, right? If a bunch of 5-year-olds were dying of Covid-19 and people were saying ‘Get back to work,’ everyone would be like, ‘Nope, I’m not letting my 5-year-old die.’

If grandma dies in a nursing home at age 81, and that’s tragic and that’s terrible, also the life expectancy in the United States is 80. So, that is not the same thing.

Yikes. Hopefully, Shapiro’s grandma didn’t hear that interview.

6. Trump advisor Stephen Moore

Dying for the economy: what 15 conservatives say about reopening states right now 3


Moore doesn’t think that states should wait to reopen until they have better testing infrastructure:

I don’t think we can wait two or three or four more weeks for testing….The rate of infection to the economy is very similar to the rate of infection of this disease.

Unfortunately, comparing an “infected” economy to people actually being sick wasn’t the worst thing he said in his interview with CBS correspondent Major Garrett. That award goes to this gem:

…one of the things that I’ve found most interesting in my 35 years or so in politics and economics is it used to be the left was the — the American Civil Liberties Union — stood up against big government taking away our rights. I’m not hearing a lot of objections of people on the left. It’s interesting to me that the right has become more the Rosa Parks of the world than the left is.

Protesting because you can’t get a haircut is exactly the same as what Rosa Parks did! Right on, Moore.

7. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy

Dying for the economy: what 15 conservatives say about reopening states right now 4


At this point, it’s probably safe to say that if someone shows up on Tucker Carlson’s show, they aren’t there to advocate for keeping the economy closed. Kennedy’s April appearance was no exception:

We gotta open this economy. If we don’t, it’s gonna collapse. And if the US economy collapses, the world economy collapses.

He went on to minimize the importance of slowing the spread of coronavirus:

Yes, we shut down. But the shutdown did not stop the spread of the virus. I wish it had, but it’s too late for that. The shutdown slowed the spread of the virus, but at enormous cost.

And to say that Americans will definitely be okay with more people getting sick when states reopen:

When we end the shutdown, the virus is gonna spread faster. That’s just a fact. And the American people understand that.

He ended his interview decrying those who would call him “morally tainted” for wanting to reopen when people’s lives were on the line, and gave this gem:

We gotta reopen, and when we do, the coronavirus is going to spread faster. And we gotta be ready for it.

Nope. Nothing “morally tainted” about that at all.

8. Political commentator Glenn Beck

Dying for the economy: what 15 conservatives say about reopening states right now 5


Glenn Beck would straight-up rather have him and all other senior citizens working and risking death, than keep the economy shut down. No, that’s not a joke. Said Beck in March,

I would rather have my children stay home, and all of us who are over 50, go in and keep this economy going and working. Even if we all get sick, I’d rather die than kill the country. Cause it’s not the economy that’s dying, it’s the country.

Watch the full clip here:

9. Fox News host Laura Ingraham

11 times Fox lawyers freaked out over the network's coronavirus coverage 1


At this point, it would probably be accurate to just say that a prerequisite for having a Fox News show is wanting the economy to reopen at any cost. As yet another example, here’s Laura Ingraham:

That tweet is from March. But Ingraham’s positions haven’t tipped in favor of public health. Even plans to reopen businesses with lower capacities offend her:

10. Antioch, CA official Ken Turnage II

Dying for the economy: what 15 conservatives say about reopening states right now 6


“Chairman of the Antioch, CA Planning Commission” isn’t a position that bestows a lot of power. But Turnage’s words were so vile, we just had to include them, typos and all. Turnage wrote on Facebook,

the World has been introduced to a new phrase Herd Immunity which is a good one. In my opinion we need to adapt a Herd Mentality. A herd gathers it ranks, it allows the sick, the old, the injured to meet its natural course in nature.

And when speaking about homeless people, Turnage said that coronavirus could “fix what is a significant burden on our society.”

He has since been fired, which is more than we can say for everybody else on this list.

11. Former NJ Governor Chris Christie

Dying for the economy: what 15 conservatives say about reopening states right now 7

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

In a recent CNN podcast, Christie made it clear where his priorities lie:

If we leave this purely up to the physicians and the epidemiologists, we’ll be locked in our houses for another year, because they don’t want us to be doing anything other than staying in our homes until there’s a vaccine.

He went on to call the “economic devastation” from the shutdown “equally sad” to the loss of human life. And when the host asked if people would be able to handle projections showing coronavirus fatalities totaling 3,000 people a day by June, Christie simply said, “They’re gonna have to.”

To top it off, Christie compared reopening the economy to sending American troops overseas:

We sacrificed those lives. We sent our young men during WWII over to Europe, out to the Pacific, knowing, knowing that many of them would not come home alive. And we decided to make that sacrifice because what we were standing up for was the American way of life. In the very same way now, we have to stand up for the American way of life.

At that statement, host Dana Bash simply responded, “Wow.”

Same, Dana. Same.

12. Arizona Representative Andy Biggs

Rep. Biggs calls for Fauci and Birx to resign in the middle of a pandemic

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

With a title like “House Freedom Caucus Chairman,” you can probably guess where Biggs falls on the “Economy vs human lives” question. In fact, he’s so passionate about reopening that he publicly opposed four coronavirus relief packages designed to support Americans while states are closed.

Said Biggs of the bill,

There are many questions that go unanswered, not the least of these, however, is the question of how much longer the American people acquiesce to unconstitutional and crushing government action… We need to open up America now. I call on our governors to free their citizens immediately.

He also pushed to minimize doctors’ voices:

13. Georgia Representative Jody Hice

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Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Hice also opposed coronavirus relief, citing concerns over how the money would be repaid. He too is a proponent for swift reopenings. Said Hice to the Hill,

It is impossible for us to sustain this, the only way we get over this is to open the economy and let free enterprise to this job, let people get back to work. And we’ve got to do that as rapidly as possible.

Georgia has started easing restrictions, though many of its citizens remain concerned about returning to work.

14. Dr. Oz

Dr. Mehmet Oz on The View


Fox News regular and pseudoscience promoter Dr. Oz toted the idea of opening schools in a way that was… not reassuring:

We need our mojo back. Let’s start with things that are really critical to the nation, where we think we might be able to open without getting into a lot of trouble… Schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in [medical journal] The Lancet, arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3%, in terms of total mortality. Any, you know, any life is a life lost, but to get every child into a school where they’re safely being educated… with a theoretical risk in the backside, it might be a tradeoff some folks would consider.

Watch the clip here:

Oz later released a video saying he realized people were “confused and upset” about his comments, but the damage was already done.

15. Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt

THEN AND NOW: Fox personalities who suddenly changed their tune about coronavirus 2


In late March, Earhardt gave a tone-deaf monologue about how terrible it is that people can’t get their nails or hair done. Because that’s what’s really important during a pandemic.

This is not a priority, but women have to get their hair done. I saw someone tweet out, ‘You’re gonna see what real color our hair is, because our roots are gonna grow in.’ All my friends are saying, you know, this is not a priority, people are dying and I realize that, but they can’t get their nails done. You know, businesses are closed everywhere. We’re in priority mode right now.

According to the NY Daily News, Earhardt then went on to discuss “whether people who bought clothing ahead of business closures will be able to return their purchases and get their money back.”

Earhardt is at least taking the crisis a bit more seriously, though unfortunately, it took her mother getting sick for her to do so. She recently defended California’s beach closures, which have been heavily protested.

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