Pelosi: Trump inaction on pandemic produced “unnecessary deaths and economic disaster”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., walks to her office after signing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act after it passed in the House on Capitol Hill, March 27, 2020, in Washington. | Andrew Harnik / AP

WASHINGTON—In her strongest criticism yet of GOP President Donald Trump’s inaction against the coronavirus pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues  his performance produced “unnecessary deaths and economic disaster.”

And to overcome both the coronavirus and Trump, she declared in the letter – which she posted on her website – “We must insist on the truth and we must act on it!”

“If we are not working from the truth, more lives will be lost, economic hardship and suffering will be extended unnecessarily and our children will not be safe, happy and learning. Our future will be healthy and prosperous if we no longer tolerate lies and deceit.”

Pelosi’s blistering missive tops other criticism of Trump’s performance, or lack of it, since the first reports of the pandemic came from China and since the first victims emerged in the U.S. in January.

Repeated investigations show Trump was warned – early on — of the threat by both his own staff, led by Peter Navarro, and by experts in contagious diseases, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Some more general warnings, from federal health officials, date back to the start of his term three years ago.

All urged him to act, and act fast, to quell the spread of the coronavirus. He didn’t, instead making up excuses, shifting blame and failing to see and prepare for the combat against the pandemic. The result was that more than 640,000 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 32,000 have died, as of the morning of April 16.

Governors and mayors and the people themselves have taken the lead in stopping the pandemic, shutting down enterprises and commerce, enforcing social distancing and mandating people stay at home. That in turn resulted in the current recession which has seen unemployment zoom past 10% and Congress allot more than $2.2 trillion in economic aid to prevent a complete collapse.

Meanwhile, Trump has stood by, named task forces headed by cronies and refused to mobilize the resources of U.S. industry to provide needed coronavirus test kits and protective equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, ventilators and respirators. And when governors imported test kits from overseas, Trump blocked and seized their shipments. One governor, J.B. Pritzker, D-Ill., has now resorted to direct flights by state planes from Chicago to China and back to bring back needed test kits and supplies.

Pelosi hit all that in her letter. First she outlined how we got into such a debacle, thanks to Trump:

“The truth is that Donald Trump dismantled the infrastructure handed to him which was meant to plan for and overcome a pandemic, resulting in unnecessary deaths and economic disaster.”

“The truth is that in January Donald Trump was warned about this pandemic, ignored those warnings, took insufficient action and caused unnecessary death and disaster.”

“The truth is that Donald Trump told his most loyal followers that the pandemic was a hoax and that it would magically disappear, thus endangering lives and paving the way for economic disaster.”

“The truth is that we did not have proper testing available in March despite Trump repeatedly claiming that we did; and even now, we do not have adequate tests, masks, PPE, and necessary equipment, which creates unnecessary death and suffering.”

“The truth is because of an incompetent reaction to this health crisis, the strong economy handed to Donald Trump is now a disaster, causing the suffering of countless Americans and endangering lives.”

“The truth is a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others.”

“The truth is, from this moment on, Americans must ignore lies and start to listen to scientists and other respected professionals in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” she added.

Pelosi is the most prominent, but not the sole, critic of Trump’s inaction. In a recent television interview, Dr. Fauci said that had action been taken earlier, the death and illness toll obviously would have been a lot lower, though he did not give numerical estimates. That earned him the Internet ire of Trump’s trolls.

And when Trump declared on April 14 that he alone had the power to reopen the country’s businesses – and plans to do so on May 1 —  the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Agency responded with a leaked report the next day saying doing so would risk resurgence of the pandemic.

Meanwhile,  Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., leader of the hardest-hit state, responded the president is not a king and cannot order the economy to open again. The governors, Cuomo said, will make that decision, and coalitions of them on both coasts are discussing timing of future moves.

After citing the legislation Congress passed, starting with mandating production of coronavirus tests, Pelosi returned to Trump’s role.

“The truth is, one month later, we do not have appropriate testing. The president continues to obfuscate, saying we have more testing than any other country in the world. The truth is that only 1% of Americans have been tested. The failure to test is central to the spread of the virus and its impact on those most vulnerable in our society. The failure to test is dangerous and deadly, and without testing, we cannot resume our lives,” she wrote.

“The president has said that we are engaged in a war. Leaders understand that in war, force protection of our troops is the top priority. In this war, force protection means for health care, police, fire, EMS, food and other essential workers to have the protective equipment that they need to save lives without risking their own.”

“The truth is that we do not have the necessary hospital equipment. Without ventilators and other equipment, our health care workers cannot save the lives of those they serve.”

“Once we all share the truth of what took place and what is currently happening, including in our minority communities, we can work together to solve these problems,” Pelosi declared.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.