Former congressman and Ohio businessman Jim Renacci joined Newsradio WTAM 1100AM’s Mike Trivisonno – and his producer Angelo Carmen – Monday to discuss the state of business in Ohio in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown, and what working people can and should expect in the coming days and weeks as the state looks to re-open.
Triv: Mr. Renacci, how the hell have you been buddy?
Renacci: I’m doing good. I’m out of the public world and into the private world. I’m working with a lot of businesses. They are saying a lot of the same things that I heard you say on the radio. They are frustrated. They are losing employees.
They are afraid they are going to lose their business. A lot of potential concerns with economic welfare. Look the governors got a tough tough job. There’s no doubt about it. There has to be a balance between the decisions being made with the economic curve as well.
Triv: We’re talking with former congressman Jim Renacci. And Jim, I’ve been saying that. You can ask Carmen and Seth from day one. Six weeks ago I started saying that there needs to be somebody from the economic side up on these press conferences with Dr. Amy Acton so we can balance it out and give the people of Ohio instead of this doom and gloom. Give them a little hope. A little light at the end of the tunnel. There has to be some balance. You’re right.
Renacci: And I would agree with you and that’s why one of the things I love about the President is that he has economic people behind him. He’s got medical people behind him and they’re all talking about statistics. I’ll give you a statistic that nobody thinks about. This is from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
With a one percent increase of unemployment produces a three percent increase in drug overdose death and a nine-point nine percent increase in suicide. The St Louis Federal Reserve has us going to a 32% unemployment potential unemployment rate. And these are the economic sides of this COVID-19 that we have to start talking about. We have to get business up and running.
And by the way, I heard you ask a question about unemployment. who ends up paying the unemployment? The taxpayers end up paying for it so we have to make sure the economic health is balanced. I know this governor has a good heart and he’s trying to do all the right things but there is a balance between COVID situation between what we talk about as of economic health and the health of the individual.
Triv: One of the greatest things and I’ve mentioned this numerous times Jim. We are talking with Jim Renacci. The President said the cure could be worse than the disease itself if we don’t watch ourselves. That’s one of the most brilliant things I’ve heard anybody say and he said that weeks ago.
Renacci: Well and I would agree. And Triv, for me, I’ve got a son up in New York City who is a doctor at Mount Sinai. So he’s right in the heart of it. I’ve got a sister who’s a nurse anesthesiologist and I hear them always telling me you don’t understand. You don’t understand.
But I’ll tell you what my son said to me last night. We are in trouble either way. He said when we open there’s going to be more. There’s definitely going to be more people getting the virus. But the economic effect is just as bad. And he’s starting to see it as well. Here’s a 30-year emergency room physician that’s seeing COVID patient after patient.
Triv: Jim I was going to bring this up to the governor but he wouldn’t have been able to answer that so I didn’t bring it up. And you brought a little bit of it up. Crime, suicide rates, overdoses, drug use, alcohol, domestic violence. There’s going to be so much more to this with forcing people to stay in their homes and they are never going to give us those exact numbers. They won’t even give us nursing home numbers.
Renacci: No, and like it says, if unemployment hits 32% it’s estimated some 77,000 Americans will likely die from suicide and drug overdoses as a result of layoffs. Scientists call these fatalities deaths of despair. These are fact-based on experience and not models. It’s funny, we’re judging everything on models but we already have facts that come out. What happens when unemployment goes to these levels? It has to be balanced. It truly does.
Carmen: You answered my question but I have another one for you, Jim. You were a leader. You know how things work. You cited those frightening numbers regarding drug use and suicides. Would you open this state up on May one?
Renacci: One of the things that I would do, and I’d be interested to see what the governor does. He’s talking about May 1st that he’ll start opening things. There are those that we have to protect. There are those over 65 and maybe have some of those conditions. But you got to give them the right. Some of them say I don’t want to stay in the house anymore, I want to leave.
Well, that’s up to them. That’s why I believe there have to be some freedoms. But we should try and protect those. Anybody maybe 55 and older, that’s a little bit concerned, we should try and protect those. But then we should look at those that want to go to work and have to go to work. Maybe under 55. There are businesses out there today.
There are manufacturing companies. I’m on the board of a manufacturing company. It’s still operating. they are practicing social distancing. They practice hand-washing and hand sanitizing and they are still operating. I think we have to do that. When it comes to restaurants, lets spread them out a little bit. Let’s let them open up.
I hear people say people won’t want to go to those restaurants. OK. if they don’t want to go they don’t have to go. I think you have to at least allow the process to start to open up. I do think there should be a process. The governor is talking about that. I don’t know what it is just yet.
But I’m hoping that he’s talking about a quick return to normalcy. Although I don’t see it if we shut schools down now for the rest of the year. I think in some ways we’ve got to come up with a plan. I’ve said this all along about businesses. Businesses look forward. They need certainty and predictability. They need it. And there is no business out there that I represent today that has any certainty and predictability. And without certainty and predictability businesses fail.
Triv: Mr. Renacci I appreciate the time. I gotta go because the President’s going to be talking pretty soon and I got to take a break here. Call anytime, Jim. Thank you for the info.
Renacci: I appreciate it. Thank you and keep up the great work.
Triv: Take care.
Listen to the full segment:
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Photo “Mike Trivisonno” by Mike Trivisonno.