Over 8.9 million Americans have contracted the Covid-19 virus and over 230,000 Americans have died. The virus is surging across America again with projections that 500,000 Americans overall will die by the end of February, but around 130,000 of those lives could be saved if everybody were to wear masks. To put it in perspective, that half million shocking death toll estimate exceeds the total deaths by American soldiers in World War II and the Vietnam War combined.
From early in the pandemic, Joe Biden has been continually calling on Donald Trump to provide a strategy and plan to control the virus until a vaccine can be made available. In his January 27th op-ed in USA Today Biden was highly critical of the Trump administration’s “shortsighted policies that have left us unprepared for a dangerous epidemic.” However, Trump has never had a formal serious plan to deal with the virus because his focus has always selfishly been on the economy and stock market, the two things most important to him for his reelection.
Trump’s interviews with Bob Woodward are revealing about how much he knew from his experts but chose to not reveal to the public. "This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward in a February 7th phone call. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
Trump’s assessment of the problem was confirmed by Olivia Troye, a now-former top aide to Vice President Pence, and a critic of the Trump response to the pandemic. Troye said “He asked the right questions early on. He said how bad is this? How does this compare to the flu? How does it spread? I saw a man who normally I had seen in various situations sometimes act irrationally or say things publicly. But in that moment he was serious, and it was clear that he was a little bit taken aback by what he was hearing.”
Yet knowing back in late January and early February that in his own words the virus was “deadly”, Trump has continually lied to the American people and downplayed the effects of how deadly contagious the virus could be. The virus will “just go away” he has falsely claimed again and again. “We’re rounding the turn, we’re rounding the corner. It’s going away”, he says in earnest.
Even after contracting the virus himself, Trump has shown no regard for the health of his aides and supporters. He recklessly holds super spreader rallies every day where very few of his loyal supporters can be seen wearing masks in the packed crowds, seemingly oblivious to the dangers of the pandemic. Trump plays to the “machismo” of his supporters mocking mask wearers as somehow not tough. He mocks Joe Biden. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from it. And he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump says.
Troye said she “witnessed firsthand the manipulation of things that led us to where we are, but they certainly didn’t want that message to carry out to the public, because it would be counterproductive on going back to a sense of normalcy or ‘Everything’s okay, everything’s fine. Let’s move on. It’s campaign season…I’ve heard people say, ‘Can we just get back to the campaign?’”
That dishonest subterfuge was pervasive throughout the entire Trump administration from the very beginning even extending into the agencies that would otherwise provide fact-based data and analysis to the public. And now with the pandemic peaking across the United States, the White House brazenly put out a press release six days before the November 3rd election listing “ending the pandemic” as one of Trump’s accomplishments.
The press release comes out of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and cites the "decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease” as a success.” It is an outright lie. There is simply no shame to the length that Trump and his team will lie to the American public to help his reelection.
By sharp contrast Joe Biden presented his plan to fight the Covid-19 pandemic early in the pandemic and has refined and updated it for today’s reality. It follows the recommendations of scientists of the CDC and World Health Organization and builds on the best pandemic practices that have been applied successfully in Taiwan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, but not unilaterally or consistently in the United States. It says a lot about Biden’s approach to problem solving -- he consults and seeks the advice of experts in their fields, as opposed to Trump’s “I alone can fix it” mentality.
Just the opposite of Trump, Biden’s plan calls for mask wearing, social distancing, and hygienic practices as well as testing and contact tracing for businesses and schools to manage and contain the virus until a vaccine becomes available for wide public distribution. Biden’s plan also shows his empathy and compassion for the victims and their families and unemployed through financial aid until a vaccine is available and the economy can return to normal.
“We can do this. We must do this”, Biden proclaimed to an audience of mask wearers showing his commitment and determination to the American people. No one should doubt Biden’s resolve and ability to achieve that success. However, he will have to first change the minds of Trump’s loyal cult of supporters who drink his daily Kool-Aide and believe that the virus will simply just go away.
Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, finally revealed in a CNN interview what much of the public already knew about Trump’s inability or refusal to respond to the pandemic. “We’re not going to control the pandemic…we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations."
As Trump’s interview with Woodward and Troye’s inside knowledge of the discussions by the White House reveal, Trump never ever had an interest in preparing or putting out a plan to manage the virus as any serious actions would impact the stock market and economy and therefore his reelection chances.
It is also totally dishonest. By his deliberate inaction, Trump is personally responsible for tens of thousands of the 227,000 deaths to date; and with the continuation of those practices, well over a hundred thousand Americans will die unnecessarily. He shows no empathy for them. “It is what it is”, he says.
The Covid-19 pandemic has likewise exposed the weaknesses in America’s health care system and the inability of many hospitals particularly in rural America to serve the increasing number of patients. The Affordable Care Act had already been weakened by Republicans who successfully got the Supreme Court to remove the individual mandate and other criteria. With many Americans losing their jobs and their employer- based health insurance, they are hurting both financially and health wise.
Trump has no plan to alleviate the suffering. In the peak of the pandemic he is still hell bent on having the Supreme Court get rid of the Affordable Care Act once and for all, which will leave some 100,000 Americans without affordable health insurance. Although he makes promises of a “big, beautiful plan” to insure everyone, he has produced nothing of substance to support that claim. Trump fails the leadership test miserably if the Affordable Care Act is ruled unconstitutional and he has nothing comparable on the table ready to replace it.
On the other hand, Joe Biden plans to improve the Affordable Care Act and increase coverage to those most in need. He will offer a Medicare option if you live in an area with limited affordable private insurance options. He lowers the Medicare eligibility age to 60 (currently 65) and offers premium-free access to Medicaid for the 4.9 million low income individuals who live in states that have not enacted the Medicaid expansion.
He also increases the tax credits to lower premiums and extend coverage to working families and measures to reduce prescription drug costs. His plan includes a host of other improvements. The costs would be offset by raising the top tax bracket back to 39.7 percent and closing capital gains loopholes.
Biden’s health care plan has evolved and is essentially a compromise plan between the Medicare for all plan of Bernie Sanders and the moderate Democrats who feel that scrapping the employer-based plans is a bridge too far for most Americans. The plan’s acceptance by a large majority of Americans is important for it’s ultimate passage as legislation through Congress.
Biden’s plan also reflects what Biden has done his entire life – building bridges to the other side of the aisle to reach a consensus on what is best for the American people. Biden is respected for his character – his honesty, humanity, humility, and compassion -- by both Democrats and Republicans. He will call on that support to, unlike Trump’s ruse, truthfully put “ending the pandemic” on his list of accomplishments.