WASHINGTON – Despite what President Donald Trump has been telling voters since he moved into the White House, this is not “the best economy in U.S. history.”

Obviously, the economy would be in better shape if we had a smart, take-charge president who listened to the medical community, urged everyone to wear masks, practice social distancing, avoid crowds and use other safe practices, instead of denying things were getting worse.

“We’re turning the corner,” Trump has been telling Americans throughout the past months. What planet has he been on?

Instead of listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the noted national expert in infectious diseases, Trump urged opening up the economy, including bars and other gathering places, and he encouraged crowds to gather at his rallies and elsewhere.

Fauci warned the White House last month that this would lead to a renewed surge of the highly contagious virus, and that, sadly, is exactly what happened.

Trump wanted no part of Fauci’s doom-and-gloom advice and ridiculed him every chance he got.

Instead of combatting the disease and following safe practices, Trump played down the dangers of the deadly pandemic and thumbed his nose at it. Just days ago, as the virus’ spread accelerated throughout the country, he was still throwing parties in the White House and insisting things weren’t that bad.

On the contrary, they have gotten worse, much worse.

Across the country, hospitals have run out of beds to care for critically ill patients, and the White House continues to ignore what has grown into an unmitigated disaster.

Instead of taking charge of a nationwide crisis, Trump has looked the other way, playing golf at swanky resort courses and baselessly charging he lost the presidency because the election was “rigged.”

Last week, his attorney general, William P. Barr, studied the president’s charges and told The Associated Press he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

And as the pandemic rages on, Trump looks the other way. To the point where the number of contagious COVID cases climbed Tuesday to nearly 14 million, claiming more than 275,000 lives.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to maintain that “this is the greatest economy that we’ve had in the history of our country.”

In fact, under Trump, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and cannot pay their mortgages and rent as a result of a pandemic that shows no sign of going away any time soon.

Heather Long, an economic columnist, said, “Millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic have fallen thousands of dollars behind on their rent and utility bills, a warning sign that people are running out of money for basic needs.”

Last week, lawmakers were working on a $908 billion relief bill that has bipartisan support. If passed, it will provide $300 a week in unemployment assistance.

An estimated 12 million workers will lose their unemployment assistance if Congress does not act before Christmas.

“The tidal wave is coming. It’s going to be really horrible for people,” said Charlie Harak, a senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “The number of people who are now 90 days behind, and the dollars they are behind are growing quite significantly.”

Is this what Trump thinks “turning the corner” looks like? Is this the way he wants to leave office at the end of his term?

Apparently, he doesn’t care anymore, if he ever did.

A president who cared would be on TV talking about this all the time and dealing with the pandemic – not just complaining about the election – calling in the medical experts, getting hospital beds for the crush of infected, critically ill Americans who are swamping hospitals from coast to coast.

“We could drastically alter the course of the pandemic, but we won’t,” Neil J. Sehgal, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, told The Washington Post this week. We won’t because it would mean shutting down businesses for an extended period, Sehgal contended.

And a protester who refused to wear a mask was the last straw for Chairwoman Phyllis Randall of Virginia’s Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

“I have no more bandwidth for the whining of people who feel like they’re being oppressed by putting a mask on their face,” Randall told the Post. “It’s not oppressive. It’s lifesaving. Get over it.”

Donald Lambro has been covering Washington politics for more than 50 years as a reporter, editor and commentator.

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