Originally posted on May 31, 2020
The threat of a truly dangerous new virus arising out of China or Africa has been well-recognized by any number of people, including Obama way back in 2014 (and even back in 2005). Trump has tried to claim nobody could have foreseen this, but that is just another feeble attempt to justify his own incompetence. Later, he tried to shift the blame for the U.S.’s poor response to others (of course including Obama). As of this writing, the U.S. has far more deaths than any other country, and Trump’s laser-like focus on his re-election is the primary reason for this.
Any reasonably competent leader would have known that pandemics are a significant threat and would have done something to prepare. Why did Trump fail so miserably? Doesn’t read? Doesn’t think? Doesn’t listen? Doesn’t care? All of the above? Regardless of why, this crises shows just how incompetent he really is. Below is a brief timeline.
From 2017 to 2020, Trump proposes cutting the CDC’s annual budgets for emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases by anywhere from $61m to $114m. Luckily Congress didn’t go along, and Trump does sign the increased spending.
Jan 15, 2017: Trump’s incoming administration is given a briefing on the threat of an emerging pandemic. As part of this they are given a 69-page “Pandemic Playbook” prepared by the outgoing Obama administration. Due to the chaotic nature of Trump’s administration most of the attendees are no longer in government service.
Feb.1, 2018: A story appears in WaPo about the CDC cutting its budget to prevent a global disease outbreak by 80%, including cutting our eyes in China. This was quite the change from 2014 when Obama announced our assistance in fighting West Africa’s Ebola outbreak.
May, 2018. The “Pandemic Team” was part of the National Security Council, headed by John Bolton at that time. During a re-org of the NSC that team was disbanded, with a number of its members leaving government service.
Dec. 31: China confirms existence of a new virus.