Not to sell them short on their first three years in power, but Donald Trump and his gang have really ratcheted up their sadism over the last several months.
The pandemic, the economic turmoil, the national discord—the many varied crises currently gripping the country have opened up new opportunities for their cruelty.
The latest abomination? A plan, first reported by Politico on Tuesday, to potentially block coronavirus relief and other health funding from cities run by Democrats, threatening the lives of those jurisdictions’ most vulnerable residents—all as the COVID catastrophe Trump has ignored escalates across the nation.
In a memo earlier this fall, Trump directed his administration to “review the use of Federal funds” by what he called “anarchist jurisdictions”—cities that didn’t sufficiently “dominate” the demonstrators who took to the streets over the summer in racial justice protests.
The move served a dual purpose for Trump, feeding into his tough guy, “law and order” campaign pitch while also allowing him to retaliate against the Democrats who hurt his feelings. It’s petty, but the administration is scrambling to comply.
According to Politico, the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday turned in a list of prospective cuts: millions in federal aid for coronavirus, HIV treatment, and other programs in New York, Seattle,
Portland, and Washington, D.C. The administration is currently reviewing the proposed funding restrictions.
“As the data comes in,” a senior Trump official told the outlet, the Office of Management and Budget “will collect it and make a decision.”
Such funding restrictions would have a particularly pronounced impact on the affected cities’ most vulnerable residents, and they come under consideration at a time when coronavirus infections are surging across the country, bringing healthcare systems to the brink once again. “It is a really dangerous time,” Tom Inglesby, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the New York Times. The threats to Democratic-led cities is an example of how the Trump administration has not only disregarded the plight of the Americans he’s nominally supposed to be leading, but also actively sought to make some of their lives worse.
But that’s how the president has governed. “Trump has never seen himself as president of the United States,” Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, a Trump critic, told the Times last month. “He’s a gang leader, and you are either in his gang or you are the enemy.”
That dynamic has perhaps never been clearer than during this current season of strife, from the administration’s indifference to the pandemic because they apparently believed its impact would primarily be felt by blue states to his churlish line at the Republican National Convention in August that summed up his political philosophy: “We’re here,” he said in his speech outside the White House, “and they’re not.” The proposed funding restrictions flow directly from that sentiment. “This is nothing more,” a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told Politico, “than political retribution.”