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As Covid-19 Infections Skyrocket, House Report Slams Trump's Pandemic Response as Among "Worst Failures of Leadership" in U.S. History

"This report exhaustively documents what has long been clear: the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis has been a tragic failure."

Firefighters and paramedics assist confirmed Covid-19 positive patients on October 26, 2020 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. (Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

Firefighters and paramedics assist confirmed Covid-19 positive patients on October 26, 2020 in Glen Burnie, Maryland. (Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

One day after the United States reported a record high of more than 90,400 Covid-19 cases in a 24-hour period—equivalent to one new infection every second—the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Friday denounced President Donald Trump's disastrous response to the pandemic, describing it as one of the "worst failures of leadership" in the country's history. 

In a new report (pdf) entitled Inefficient, Ineffective, and Inequitable, the panel detailed how the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis has caused a public health catastrophe, failed to alleviate the ongoing economic hardships endured by millions of U.S. households, and prioritized Wall Street recovery over Main Street relief. 

"The virus is a global scourge," said the report, "but it has been an American fiasco, killing more people in the U.S. than in any other country."

The subcommittee's most recent publication compiled and summarized key findings from dozens of investigations it has conducted since being established on April 23.

"This report exhaustively documents what has long been clear," said subcommittee Chairman James Clyburn (D-S.C.) in a statement released Friday. "The Trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis has been a tragic failure."

According to the analysis, Trump's "decision to mislead the public about the severity of the crisis, his failure to listen to scientists about how to keep Americans healthy, and his refusal to implement a coordinated national plan to stop the coronavirus have all contributed to devastating results: more than 227,000 Americans dead, more than 8.8 million Americans infected, and a dangerous virus that continues to spread out of control nine months after it reached our nation's shores."

In addition, the report noted that the White House failed to protect millions of economically distressed households experiencing material deprivation and financial freefall. 

Instead of extending enhanced unemployment insurance benefits and providing housing relief, for instance, the Trump aministration "exacerbated and extended an economic collapse of historic proportions, with tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs and at least six million Americans falling into poverty."

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To the extent that the Trump administration did respond to the economic crisis, the report noted that it intervened in ways that "benefited larger companies and wealthy Americans, while leaving behind many disadvantaged communities and struggling small businesses."

The report pointed to the Federal Reserve's practice of purchasing corporate debt while leaving workers out to dry. It also stated that the Trump administration's "implementation of relief programs passed by Congress has... been marred by fraud, waste, and abuse."

Trump "has refused to do what is necessary to control the virus and mitigate its economic damage," said Clyburn.

"While we cannot bring back the nearly 230,000 Americans we have lost to this disease, I hope that this report will serve as a wake-up call to make the improvements needed to prevent further unnecessary deaths and deprivation that will occur if the response continues on its current course," he added. 

To that end, the subcommittee made several recommendations:

  • The administration must create and implement a coordinated national plan to defeat the coronavirus, save American lives, and revive our economy;
  • A coordinated national plan must be guided by the best available science, not political expediency;
  • Americans need the Senate to pass and the president to sign comprehensive relief legislation to tackle the virus and support workers, families, and communities; and
  • Economic relief legislation must be implemented in a manner consistent with Congress's intent to target assistance to the most vulnerable Americans rather than wealthy corporations.

These recommendations contrast sharply with recent stances taken by the White House. As Accountable.US president Kyle Herring said Friday, the Trump administration appears "to have thrown their hands up in surrender, ramping up rhetoric around 'herd immunity' and publicly announcing that they 'are not going to control the virus.'"

"As cases surge," Herring added, "the Trump administration should be doubling down on resources to ensure communities have the support they need."

Failing to do so "is an abdication of responsibility to the American people on a massive scale," he said. 

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