Sen. Sherrod Brown has long been one of President Trump’s leading critics. He even toyed with a run for the Democratic presidential nomination last year before opting out of a race.
On Wednesday, he called into Yahoo Finance’s “On the Move” show and had plenty of criticisms for the president but did acknowledge that Trump has "done a few things right in the last few days."
He immediately added: “I don't listen much to what he says, I listen to what the health professionals say considering that the president has just sort of babbled through much of this.”
Observers have noticed a shift in Trump’s tone while addressing this crisis after appearances in previous weeks that often downplayed the seriousness of the problem.
The Ohio senator had a similar response when he was asked about billionaire investor Bill Ackman’s call Wednesday for Trump to shut the U.S. down for the next month. “Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. I don't care what he thinks,” Brown said. “I care what medical professionals think.”
The response in Ohio
Brown did have positive words to say about his home-state governor, Republican Mike Dewine. “The governor of Ohio has done it right,” said Brown. “The president got a terribly, terribly late start, that's why we're so far behind.” One of Dewine’s recent actions was to delay his state’s primary, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Brown signed a letter on Wednesday to the Senate leadership calling for a massive infusion of cash directly to Americans. “The first payment would be $2,000 per American,” the letter said, “with subsequent payments stepping down over time and the duration of payments tied to subsequent economic triggers.”
Washington, D.C. is currently debating a phase 3 economic stimulus bill that appears likely to include direct payments. The numbers being floated by Trump officials have been a bit more modest than Brown’s proposal.
During the interview, Brown was also clear about what should not be allowed to happen to all the money coming with the deal: “no stock buybacks, no executive compensation increases, no sending job overseas, no outsourcing jobs,” he said, adding that direct payments to Americans are key. “You do this to help people so they can maintain a semblance of their lifestyle of some sort for middle class and working class families.”
Ben Werschkul is a producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.