So many changes are happening in our nation due to the coronavirus and our response to it that we can barely digest it. And this is on top of the three years of actions taken by DT to undermine the safety of our nation and shock our personal emotions, our collective mental health and our political and legal system. And now, every aspect of our society might be threatened along with the lives of many people.
DT is not responsible for the coronavirus. But he is responsible for the incompetence of his response to it and for prioritizing the state of the stock market and his own re-election over any concern for people’s lives.
DT set the stage for this crisis with his attitude toward public health, which at best could be called short-sighted, at worst idiotic, cruel, or vengeful (as he pointedly cut programs started by President Obama). He proposed cuts to the 2020 and 2021 budgets for the CDC. Cuts to the CDC began in 2018, when Obama-era health security funding was cut and the agency ran out of money. According to Fortune Magazine, “Overall in 2018, Trump called for $15 billion in reduced health spending that had previously been approved, …cutting the global disease-fighting budgets of the CDC, National Security Council (NSC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Health and Human Services (HHS) in the process.” He dismantled the entire White House team in charge of global health security, also created by Obama.
DT’s choices for running the health agencies are also suspect. For example, his choice of Robert Redfield to chair the CDC was controversial. Redfield had once claimed the best way to stop the AIDS epidemic in Africa was through abstinence and monogamy and he was investigated for pushing an HIV vaccine as a huge breakthrough despite the lack of proof for its efficacy. DT appointed Alex Azar, former head of drug giant Eli Lilly, to head HHS. Azar had a record at Lilly for predatory price increases. It is debatable how someone with this record could be responsible for protecting the American people from such predatory practices.
As the New York Times reports, DT has continuously minimized the scale of the coronavirus crisis, treating it as a foreign threat you could build a wall to keep out. He has contradicted his own public health officials, by talking about going to work when sick, shaking hands with people on his travels (as if the warning by health officials to wash one’s hands was nonsense), and claiming a vaccine will be available soon when it will take a year or more to produce. He has politicized the crisis while blaming the Democrats for doing so, claiming that the media coverage is part of a political conspiracy to destroy his presidency. He focused more on creating his wall against the “foreign virus” then getting out the test kits that are needed to actually stem this crisis and find out who and how many people actually have the disease.
What will we see next? Some public schools and many colleges and universities are shut down. Concerts, sporting events, any large gatherings are being cancelled. Workers are being asked to work remotely. Many of us are sheltering at home, isolated from each other. All this is understandable. But at the same time, our economy and quality of life is being undermined.
Besides our own and our neighbor’s health, we have to watch out for how DT might use the virus to serve his own interest. He has already isolated the US by banning travel to all of Europe except Britain. And why Britain? There are more cases of the virus in England than many other European countries.
What will he ask us to accept next in order to re-open schools, restore large gatherings, sporting and artistic events? Will he try to further hide information or gag officials so Americans can’t learn the truth? Will he try to undermine Social Security or other safety net programs in order to pay for treating people with the virus while protecting tax cuts or the safety net for the wealthy? Will he try to cancel or limit voting and political gatherings or protests or legal procedures? Will he further attack or eliminate voices opposed to, or who run against, him? Or, as The Guardian warns, blame immigrants for the virus?
Or will our response to the virus unite us, wake us up to the fact that we are all in this together, so health care will be improved? And an overwhelming majority of us, even some of DT’s supporters, will realize just how much he threatens our health, safety, rights and humanity and vote to remove him from office?
Update: DT just (on Friday, March 13) declared a state of emergency to more adequately face the crisis posed by the coronavirus. This state of emergency is actually justifiable and necessary, unlike his bogus one over the border wall. I agree with a New York Times opinion piece, which called for the emergency declaration while expressing trepidation about a President who is already assuming powers that he shouldn’t be granted and abusing them. I am hoping for the best, considering the dangers this crisis poses, but also watchful.
**Update March 21: DT might be appearing more serious about the crisis on televised appearances. But underneath it all, he is still undermining our nation. Rolling Stone has an article on how DT’s DOJ has asked Congress for legislation giving judges the right to hold people indefinitely and suspend their constitutional rights during the coronavirus and other possible emergencies. Also, DT proposed a temporary suspension of payroll taxes. This cut in taxes could undermine SSI while doing nothing to help people who have lost their jobs or businesses due to the virus. If you have no paycheck, a suspension of the payroll tax does nothing for you. It predominantly helps the wealthy.
According to the New York Times, the GOP just proposed large corporate tax cuts, billions of dollars in loans to corporations, limits to paid sick leave, and a check of up to possibly $1200 to taxpayers, depending on income.