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Gleefully ignorant Trump fiddles as health officials scramble to contain deadly coronavirus outbreak

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David Cay Johnston
David Cay Johnston

Worried about the coronavirus? Then you’ll be frightened to learn about Donald Trump’s cheapskate budget proposals for fighting disease.

His 2021 budget year plan calls for cutting 7.2% cut from the National Institutes of Health budget. That’s almost $3 billion.

The good news is that the proposed spending cut would be less severe than Trump’s first budget plan. Trump recommends a 23.5% cut three years ago. That would have reduced NIH spending by $7.7 billion to $25.1 billion.

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Trump “is not worried at all” that he might catch the virus.

Lucky for us, Congress didn’t let Trump have his way.

The emergency spending bill, drafted by House Democrats, provides $8.3 billion, roughly four times what the cheapskate Trump team belatedly requested to combat the coronavirus.

NIH spending has actually risen since Trump took office, but only because Congress used its power of the purse to overcome what Trump wanted, which was to put us all at greater risk from infectious diseases.

Trumps’ 2021 budget proposes no change in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Taking inflation into account that’s a small cut.

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Actual CDC spending will go up, but only because of the emergency spending plan to combat the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

The emergency spending bill, drafted by House Democrats, provides $8.3 billion, roughly four times what the cheapskate Trump team belatedly requested to combat the coronavirus.

Voting Against Coronavirus Spending

Two Republican representatives voted against the emergency spending, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Ken Buck of Colorado.

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Buck, who worries that our government will take away the AK-47 he brandishes in a Twitter video, voted no because of what he tweeted was a “bloated spending package.”

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Maybe Buck thinks his mass killing gun can be a cheap and effective weapon against the often-lethal virus.

To Trumpians, voting against extra money to fight the coronavirus makes sense because they don’t understand science, preferring to live in a childish fantasy world where, as Buck followers tweeted at his account, spending on coronavirus is really a plot to enrich Democrats and, even worse, Californians.

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Seriously, as you can read for yourself:

 

 

The ignorance of Trump, Buck and many Trumpians is bad news for the more than one in five Americans under age 5 or over 64, the age groups most vulnerable to dying from the coronavirus. Add the 3% of Americans with compromised immune systems through illness or treatment for cancer and other diseases. That brings the vulnerable American population to more than one in four.

Be Prepared … Not

Trump’s first budget also proposed ending all funding for the Academic Centers for Public Health Preparedness. They were established in 2000 so that during a health emergency like the coronavirus experts in state and local agencies were connected to one another.

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The self-proclaimed “very stable genius” proposes yet again in his current budget to wipe out that program, which costs a mere $8.2 million annually.

Trump “is not worried at all” that he might catch the virus.

All of these cuts are in line with Trump’s shutting down in 2018 the National Security staff whose job was to prepare for future epidemics and pandemics. Why would Trump do that? First, because he doesn’t understand science. Second, anything Obama did, in Donald’s mind, must be bad and has to go.

If you doubt that Trump doesn’t understand science just listen to what Stephanie Grisham told Fox & Friends Monday. Grisham is paid by us as the White House press secretary, but she is, in reality, Trump’s personal ambassador to Fox News.

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Trump Ignores Experts

Grisham talked about the CDC’s advice on staying away from crowds to reduce the risk of community spread of the coronavirus. Already seven Republican congressmen have self-quarantined after attending an annual conservative gathering where at least one attendee was infected.

So, is Trump following the advice of the actual experts our government employs to avoid crowds? Not a chance.

“Yes, he plans on still holding rallies,” Grisham told the Fox& Friends show, oblivious to the contradiction.

Grisham then dropped into adulation of the Supreme Leader mode right out of the North Korean playbook:

“And I’ll tell you what, with our President — this man who doesn’t sleep and who I have seen work 15-16 hours a day every day—I have no problem thinking that he’s going to be just fine and just healthy.”

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She added, as someone who compulsively washes his hands, the 73-year-old Trump “is not worried at all” that he might catch the virus.

Let’s hope Grisham is right so that voters, not some virus that migrated from Chinese bats to people, send him packing.

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