In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response, Volume #2
March 20, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic in the United States is getting worse because of President Trump. Full stop. The seeds of this public health disaster were planted on President Trump’s first day in office.
Volume #2: Decimating Pandemic Response
The Trump administration’s sabotage of health care does not stop at increasing costs and reducing coverage. It also includes failing to adequately protect Americans from infectious disease outbreaks. From proposed budget cuts to leaving key positions unfilled to making it harder for people to access health care, President Trump has worked the last three years to undermine and dismantle our pandemic response apparatus, leaving Americans more vulnerable to the coronavirus
In 2018, President Trump dismantled the entire global health security unit at the National Security Council, reassigning Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, a long-time public health official who led the unit, and forcing out homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, another key official for coordinating infectious disease preparedness.
In addition, Trump did nothing to replenish funds for the global health section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, the Washington Post reported that Trump had “failed to fill crucial public health positions across the government, leaving the nation ill-prepared” for a global pandemic.
If all this isn’t bad enough, President Trump’s current budget proposal, submitted to Congress after this outbreak began in China, once again seeks cuts to key programs for global disease response and domestic preparedness. In his 2021 budget, Trump proposed steep cuts to the two agencies in charge of the coronavirus response, seeking to reduce NIH funding by $3.7 billion and CDC funding by $1.29 billion. He previously proposed cutting global health funding in his 2020 budget from more than $11 billion to less than $8 billion, its lowest level since 2008. Per Foreign Policy, other Trump-backed efforts included a proposal for “reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS.”
And what do all these cuts and proposed cuts to pandemic response and preparedness and health care, including over $1 trillion in proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid coincide with? Trump’s obscene tax cuts for billionaires, Wall Street, and corporate America. In Trump’s presidency, the health of millions of Americans has taken a back seat to tax cuts for the richest Americans.