26 May 2020   2 comments

As we try to understand why it seems that the US was so unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, one explanation offered by the Trump Administration is that President Obama “left the cupboard bare”. Mr. Trump made this statement in his press briefing on 6 April 2020:

“But they also gave us empty cupboards.  The cupboard was bare.  You’ve heard the expression: ‘The cupboard was bare.’  So we took over a stockpile where the cupboard was bare and where the testing system was broken and old.  And we redid it.

“And, frankly, it would be okay for a small event but not for a big event.  And they had a chance to do it.  Somebody said that a certain person — I won’t tell you, but a certain person said this will happen.  And that’s true.  The problem is that person never did anything about it — previous administrations.  In previous admin- — they never did anything about it.

“You know, we all know all about pandemics and all of the things that we’re seeing now, but nobody thought it was going to happen.  And if we did think it was going to happen, the problem is nobody did anything about it.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an editorial yesterday that put the lie to those assertions:

“We’ve taken the time to dissect Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budgets from the year before Obama left office all the way to the present. Trump can lie, but the numbers cannot. Obama left office with an unblemished record of building up the nation’s pandemic preparedness. Trump systematically sought to dismantle it.

“Perhaps because of his experience with the 2015 Ebola outbreak, Obama sought to leave his successor fully prepared to confront future pandemics. He asked in his fiscal 2017 budget request to boost federal isolation and quarantine funding by $15 million, to $46.6 million. Congress approved $31.6 million. In Trump’s three years in office, he has not requested a dime more in funding.

“Obama asked to nearly double his own $40 million outlay for epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Congress balked, but Obama left Trump with that $40 million as a starting point. What did Trump do? In his 2020 budget, he asked Congress to cut that number to: Zero. Zilch. Nothing.

Mr. Trump’s own Center for Disease Control issued a 438 page analysis of its budget requests for 2020. I have reproduced the summary table of the budgets over time. For those who are unfamiliar with the US government’s tabular notations, decreases in budgets are within parentheses ( ). Look at the far-right column which notes the changes from 2019 to 2020. Mr. Trump’s hollowing out of the CDC is actually astonishing. Mr. Trump left the country dangerously unprepared for the pandemic.

Posted May 26, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “26 May 2020

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  1. “For those who are unfamiliar with the US government’s tabular notations, decreases in budgets are not within parentheses ( )”- It appears that the parenthesized amounts are deficits and the opposite of this comment, instead, decreases in budgets are within parentheses?

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