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New Report Focuses on Trump Administration’s “Intentional Disregard” Throughout Its Failed COVID-19 Response

WASHINGTON - The first duty of government is to protect its people and it is up to the people to hold that government accountable when it fails. A new report from Common Cause chronicles the Trump administration’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of government accountability and the abuse of power. “Intentional Disregard: Trump’s Authoritarianism During the COVID-19 Pandemic” examines the ineffective response by the White House, and how the administration is using the public health crisis as a pretext to undermine pillars of our democracy including transparency and accountability.

“The Trump administration’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented public health crisis leading to a worsening economic crisis. What is becoming clearer each day is President Trump’s intent to use this chaos to create a crisis for our democracy,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “The disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian communities are not unique to this illness and every economic downturn impacts these communities hardest. These outcomes are the consequences of political decisions made by people we entrusted with power. What is different this time is the failures come after Trump’s Administration has destabilized long-standing global alliances abroad and undermined our democracy at home,” Hobert Flynn added.

“We know the government can do better. Other governments around the world are doing a much better job than our own handling this pandemic. Trump’s decision to politicize everything, including public health guidance, sets us apart from the world,” said Paul Seamus Ryan, Common Cause Vice President for Policy and Litigation. “November’s elections are the opportunity for Americans to hold government accountable. Trump and his allies are working to suppress votes by opposing expanded vote by mail. Common Cause is fighting to ensure that every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot safely and securely,” Ryan added.

The report’s three sections detail the administration’s failures on a range of good government issues:

  • “Divider in Chief” looks at the administration’s efforts to use the crisis to his political advantage, from rigging Census2020 to opposing Vote-by-Mail and refusing to adequately fund states to make voting in person as safe as possible. The section also looks at the fringe “Liberate” movement Trump briefly championed and his opposition to Black Lives Matter protests.
  • “Me, Myself, and I” details how Trump has sold out small business while looking out for crony capitalists, billionaires, and Red State governors and undermining the most basic oversight and accountability of how our tax dollars are being spent.
  • “Information Manipulation” looks at one of the most dangerous threats to our democracy, the alternate reality he and the purveyors of friction-over-facts journalism have created while threatening legitimate journalists seeking the truth. As we rely more on the internet to work and school from home and to stay connected during isolating times, the FCC undermined Net Neutrality and implemented policies that have increased the digital divide between rich and poor. And attacks on the United States Postal Service, as states move to Vote-by-Mail, underscore their desperation to hold onto power.

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The report concludes with a series of recommendations Common Cause is working to advance to see our nation through this crisis:

  • Passage of the HEROES Act which includes financial and other assistance for everyday Americans who are struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, as well as funding to support the administration of this year’s elections, the 2020 Census, broadband access, phone access for incarcerated individuals, the USPS and other critically important public services.
  • Oversight of federal government COVID-19 relief spending through the passage of the Coronavirus Oversight and Recovery Ethics Act (CORE Act) or similar legislation.
  • Independent oversight of executive branch agencies, including, for example, protecting inspectors general from firing except for cause and passage of the Inspector General Independence Act or similar legislation.
  • Complete an accurate Census2020 despite the challenges of the pandemic through the passage of the Fair and Accurate Census Act.
  • Look at all policies and practices that produce racist effects and outcomes and replace them with anti-racist policies and practices.
  • Protect people in prison and detention centers by releasing vulnerable populations and creating sanitary conditions for those who remain incarcerated.
  • Pass the For the People Act to implement long-term, far-reaching reforms to government ethics and elections—the core of democratic governance—including campaign finance reform; expanded vote-by-mail, no-excuse absentee voting, early voting, online voter, same-day and automatic voter registration; and ending prison gerrymandering.

The report was written by Sylvia Albert, Keshia Morris Desir, Yosef Getachew, Liz Iacobucci, Beth Rotman, Paul S. Ryan, and Becky Timmons.

To read the “Intentional Disregard” report, click here.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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