“The Death Panel is Donald Trump”
I didn’t create the title of this article. @AlexKotch did on Twitter, but it’s an apt frame. Kotch’s thread is here:
Donald Trump has made it absolutely clear that he is less inclined to send PPE, ventilators, or other health care equipment to states with Democratic Governors who have criticized the White House’s lack of progress in coordinating a Federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are some of the numbers from Citizens for Ethics:
When Donald Trump intentionally punishes Democratic Governors by withholding crucial Federal supplies and equipment, and this results in unnecessary loss of life, what do we call that?
From CNBC on March 27th:
“President Donald Trump said Friday that he instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to reach out to governors who aren’t ‘appreciative’ of his administration’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in their states.
The President mentioned Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, both Democrats who have been critical of the White House’s actions to combat the deadly pandemic.”
Trump’s message is to Democratic governors is clear: bend the knee or pay the price. This threat, made in a very public way when Trump says he expects “them to be appreciative,” shows clear intent to punish Democratic leaning states by withholding crucial supplies. The result is the needless death of hundreds if not thousands and the numbers are climbing hourly.
Since the alarm was first raised publicly about the coronavirus in early January Donald Trump has repeatedly mischaracterized the threat. In early February called the pandemic “a hoax.” Weeks later, he declared the threat very limited. He has wasted months doing nothing to ramp up PPE production, while the pandemic spreads. Trump’s State Department donated 17 tons of PPE supplies to China in February. Trump’s lack of Federal coordination now has states bidding against each other and the Federal government for desperately needed supplies instead of using the buying power of the Federal government to insure adequate supplies at a fair price. And finally, he is arguing against several Democratic Governor’s estimates of what is needed in their states and accusing heath care workers in New York City of stealing supplies.
The President of the United States has this to say about front line health care workers in New York City, “Something’s going on…Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door?”
I am writing now from shelter in place in New York City. All US Citizens are being advised by the CDC that we should all wear masks. Yet, here in Trump’s America, there are no masks to be had. I ordered my own three months ago. They still have not arrived. They likely never will. And frankly, if they do arrive, I will donate them to our front line doctors and nurses who have been reduced to wearing garbage bags when they enter the coronavirus wards.
But now something even darker is becoming evident. As the coronavirus is racing like wildfire across every major city, be they in so called red states or blue, President Trump is playing favorites in distributing supplies and support.
Trump had this to say about Democratic governors as quoted on March 31st on Salon:
“‘When they disrespect me, they’re disrespecting our government,’ Trump said Sunday of governors who had been critical of his lagging response. ‘I want them to be appreciative,’ he said days earlier, explaining why some states had gone ignored by the White House, potentially endangering the lives of millions of people…”
“Thursday night, (March 26th) after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called for tens of thousands of ventilators, Trump dismissed his request in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. ‘I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,’ Trump claimed. He repeated his …assurance on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning. ‘New York should be fine. Based on the numbers that we see, they have more than enough,’ he said.”
President Donald Trump has refused to adequately supply New York State ventilators and other equipment from the federal stock pile, leaving the state to find its own supply. Governor Andrew Cuomo understands this. He has turned his energies to finding alternative sources for supplies and equipment, mounting the nations most significant testing program, green lighting field hospitals in convention centers and providing daily briefings that more and more Americans are tuning in in order to get brutally honest information about the pandemic.
In the few short days since Salon published the article quoted above, the number of hospitalized cases in New York City has soared, threatening to collapse the health care system here. The price being paid by doctors and healthcare workers on the front lines who are forced to risk their lives without adequate PPE or other supplies is agonizing to witness. And the worst is yet to come. Because of President Trump’s abject failure to get ahead of the coronovirus early and effectively, the final numbers are going to be catastrophic across the United States, potentially bringing the global economy to the brink.
Trump’s early messaging declaring the coronavirus “a hoax,” amplified as it was for weeks by Fox News, will be nothing short of devastating. Already a law suit has been filed against Fox News for intentionally misleading viewers about the impending danger. I hope there will be hundreds of such lawsuits. Because of these lies stated by the President and amplified by Fox News to its largely older conservative viewership, states like Florida will be hit especially hard. Accordingly, Governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, left the beaches open during spring break and continues to fail to order a complete shut down, leaving churches open for people to congregate.
Ultimately, Trump’s motivations for initially denying the pandemic’s scope and seriousness are open to speculation. Early on, he seemed most concerned about the impact the pandemic might have on the stock market, and by extension, his reelection, preferring to deny the pandemic existed. He certainly made no effort to coordinate the kind of massive Federal response required.
It’s deeply ironic that Trump might well have insured his reelection by mounting a powerful coordinated Federal response, but Trump chose instead to call the global pandemic a hoax. The precious months we needed to stave off a massive loss of American lives are gone.
But now something even more disturbing is happening. While denying any personal responsibility for the scale of the epidemic, Trump is no longer denying the scope of this catastrophe. Trump is however, refusing to use the full power of the Federal government to get much needed medical supplies and equipment to the front line cities who are the first to fight. It is no surprise that most front line cities are in so called “blue states” and that their governors are not supporters of the President’s coronavirus policies.
But they are fighting a battle that will soon spread to every county in every state. Governor Cuomo has already said that when the wave passes New York State, equipment sent here first would be shifted to places across the nation where the wave hits next. Cuomo’s suggestion is just one small example of what a coordinated Federal response would look like were we to actually have one.
The Americans now dying by the thousands are not from any one party or political affiliation. The coronavirus doesn’t care about that.
But President Trump does. The President’s own public statements and the resulting distribution of supplies from the Federal stockpile, clearly indicate that Trump is dramatically under supplying requests from the Democratic Governors he says should be more “appreciative.” In this moment, he is punishing leaders that do not endorse the White House’s failed Federal response.
Here’s the bottom line: Trump is committing political payback on a catastrophic scale, and innocent people have already begun to die.
So, how much longer do we beat around the bush? How much longer do we wait before we call it what it is?