Fox News contributor Bill Bennett downplays risks to Americans by re-starting the economy

Anchor Ed Henry asks Bennett what we can learn in the war against coronavirus from the War on Drugs

Video file

Citation From the March 25, 2020, edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom

ED HENRY (ANCHOR): The critics who were jumping on him seemed to think that he has a one size fits all when as you just pointed out he and Dr. Fauci both said at the White House podium last night that this could be something that sort of phased in, rolled out, and Dr. Fauci said we need to be flexible, which is important. Let me quote from your story. What a sane society needs to ask, you write, is the national fatality rate of the disease and what is the result of losing everything else? I assume you were talking about the economy. I want to point out there are a lot of people in this country reading stories like this and saying, "Wait a second, are you saying you are willing to let a certain number of people die to make sure the economy doesn't die?" There are people who hear this. I'm not saying that's what you are saying, but they hear this and jump on it and they say Bill Bennett, you're heartless. 

BILL BENNETT: No, no. I am not prepared to see anybody die, but as the president pointed out, you may see more people die as a result of a totally destroyed economy. Think about what's going on in some homes right now? The Wall Street Journal talks about this this morning. We're seeing a rise in opioid abuse, we're seeing alcoholism, child abuse, domestic violence. There are costs to this kind of thing. 

And as the president pointed out, it's not just about money, or money versus life. He talks about the American people as people who want to go to work, self-respect is tied into work, we can do both. We can focus on the people who are most in danger, and I think we're doing a better job at that. Look for these cures, and at the same time keep this engine running and that engine is the engine of American society. Both our health, our well-being, and our happiness. And we can certainly do both. I think the president has been very balanced about that. And I think he has the right grasp of the darkness but he is pointing us toward the light, and I gotta tell ya, Ed, there are some people who just want to see the president fail. Hate to say it, but if you read, people are saying it's the end of America, it's the end of the American experiment, America is in decline, this proves it. It's not. America's gonna get through this. Let's just pay attention to the right things and when it comes to the country, disaggregate. Cersei, Arkansas is not New York City.

HENRY: Absolutely.

BENNETT: A friend of mine said go to the restaurants and card the old people. Maybe I shouldn't get in. But I mean -- I don't need to. I don't need to.

HENRY: Pardon me one second. I just want to get to this last point because you say we've had other non-kinetic wars before. One of them, non-kinetic was the war on drugs that you helped wage for this country. Final minute we have, what lessons did you learn from that war that we need now?

BENNETT:  Well, I wish we would have gone full-on or were allowed to go as full-on on that one as we're going on this one. Look at the fatality count on this one. 65,000 a year. I don't know if we reach that with this one, but different issues require different measures, and I think what the president is doing, the aspiration about Easter, but the care and caution about protecting those most vulnerable and attention to the places that have the most problems like New York is the right thing, but let's be balanced. Let's not be impervious to good news like the Senate actually acting and passing something and the market going up. This is good news not just financially, but good for Americans and their morale.