Democrat presidential candidates were called out by a surprising source after presenting a “distorted picture” of the President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus threat.
Democratic 2020 contenders Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg were fact-checked by the Associated Press after their criticism of the president and for “describing the federal infectious-disease bureaucracy as rudderless and ill-prepared.”
“That’s a distorted picture. For starters, Trump hasn’t succeeded in cutting the budget,” the AP fact-checkers noted in a report published Wednesday. “He’s proposed cuts but Congress ignored him and increased financing instead. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t suffering from budget cuts that never took effect.”
The report was in response to claims made by Biden and Bloomberg during this week’s Democratic presidential debate.
“There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. And he’s defunded — he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don’t have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing,” billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said.
Biden went his usual route and compared the Trump administration to that of former President Obama under which he served.
“We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget,” the former vice president said. “He’s wiped all that out. … He cut the funding for the entire effort.”
The Associated Press shot down the claims:
Bloomberg is repeating the false allegation in a new ad that states the U.S. is unprepared for the virus because of “reckless cuts” to the CDC. Trump’s budgets have proposed cuts to public health, only to be overruled by Congress, where there’s strong bipartisan support for agencies such as the CDC and NIH. Instead, financing has increased.
Indeed, the money that government disease detectives first tapped to fight the latest outbreak was a congressional fund created for health emergencies.
The AP went on to note that even a CDC grant program that funds state and local public health emergency preparedness was on the decline before Trump was in office.
The outlet further rebutted Bloomberg’s claim that “there’s nobody here,” pointing out that it “sells short what’s in place” with an existing staff and a “playbook” at the ready “regardless of who’s president or whether specific instructions are coming from the White House.”
Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s principal deputy director who is “a veteran of previous outbreaks” was named by the AP as one of those who are part of the exiting team along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease director at the NIH who has served under six presidents.
Trump blasted Democrats for politicizing the coronavirus outbreak during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday with officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He specifically called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “incompetent” and accused her of not caring about the American people.
Trump boasts swift action against coronavirus, blasts Pelosi for politicizing and ‘trying to create panic’ https://t.co/b0egrTxfM8
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 27, 2020
“I think she’s not thinking about the country,” the president said. “Instead of making a statement like that, she should be saying we have to work together because we have a big problem, potentially. And maybe it’s going to be a very little problem – I hope that it’s going to be a very little problem – but we have to work together.”
Pelosi and Democrats had been leveling accusations against Trump and his alleged budget cuts in attacks aimed at pushing their own proposed plan to handle the coronavirus threat.
Our state and local governments need serious funding to be ready to respond effectively to any outbreak in the U.S. The President should not be raiding money that Congress has appropriated for other life-or-death public health priorities.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 25, 2020
But as AP pointed out, the narrative is not accurate and many have refuted the claims being made by the 2020 Democratic contenders and others.
John Auerbach, president of the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health, told AP that top CDC levels have not been under attack by Trump and have been stable under the Trump administration.
“The CDC’s response has been excellent, as it has been in the past,” Auerbach said.
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