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Trump’s Chaotic Pandemic Response Puts Virginia Health, Jobs, & Social Security at Risk

Trump’s Chaotic Pandemic Response Puts Virginia Health, Jobs, & Social Security at Risk

Virginia unemployment when Trump took office: 4.0 percent

Virginia unemployment now: 6.1 percent

Tomorrow, President Donald Trump will arrive in Newport News, Virginia, to hold a rally in an airplane hangar at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. This event will be his seventh non-socially distanced rally in the past week, demonstrating how the president has simultaneously minimized the COVID-19 pandemic and put Americans at risk despite having known the dangers of the virus since February. This week, as the United States passed the grim milestone of more than 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 — more than the entire population of Newport News — Trump continued to downplay the threat of the virus by falsely claiming that it “affects virtually nobody” andonly elderly people with preexisting conditions, despite having acknowledged to Bob Woodward months ago that “it’s not just old people.” Trump’s callous disregard puts all Virginians at risk. He continues to attack his own administration’s coronavirus safety guidelines, such as wearing masks, as his supporters intimidated Virginians attempting to vote early this past weekend.

In part due to Trump’s failure to control the coronavirus, the unemployment rate in Virginia grew to 6.1 percent in August from 4.0 percent when Trump’s presidency began. In the absence of federal leadership or any national testing plan, the virus continues to spread and uncertainty has caused wildly unstable economic conditions in the state. Amid this economic instability, Trump also reduced unemployment benefits by $300 per week, increasing monthly shortfalls to $1,997 per month for Virginia single-parent families with one child on a modest budget, according to a recent Center for American Progress analysis. As of September 24, more than 201,616Virginians are still receiving some type of unemployment benefits. In total, 317,700 fewer Virginians were employed in August compared with February — a 7.7 percent decline.

Instead of leading the country out of the pandemic, Trump has continued his long-time assault on Social Security by calling for the termination of a large portion of its dedicated funding source — payroll taxes. Trump’s proposal, according to Social Security Chief Actuary Stephen Goss, would wipe out the Social Security Trust Fund by 2023. More than 1.5 million Virginia residents, or 17.6 percent of the state’s population, are Social Security beneficiaries. Meanwhile, nearly 642,000 Virginians will lose their health coverage if the Trump administration-backed lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) succeeds, and 3.6 million Virginians with preexisting conditions will lose critical protections against higher premiums or lose their coverage altogether.

Learn more about how the Trump administration’s policies have hurt Virginians and put Virginia families at risk below.

Profits and wages

Promise: “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. … [O]ur poorer citizens will get new jobs and higher pay and new hope for their life.” — Donald Trump, October 5, 2016

Reality: President Trump promised voters that he would prioritize the interests of the middle class. Instead, he has prioritized the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

  • President Trump has the worst jobs record of any president in U.S. history and is the only president to have lost net jobs during his term.
  • Trump blocked a federal minimum wage increase for Virginia workers. 1.19 million state workers were denied a pay increase, resulting in more than $4.17 billion in lost wages.
  • Trump took away paid overtime protections, costing Virginia workers $22.8 million annually in lost overtime wages.

Health care

Promise: “Those with preexisting conditions will always get the quality coverage they need.” — Donald Trump, September 24, 2016

Reality: The Trump administration is trying to repeal the ACA through the courts with no replacement. If successful, the Trump administration will strip coverage from millions of Americans, raise premiums, and end protections for people with preexisting conditions.

  • 642,000 people in Virginia would lose coverage if the ACA were repealed.
  • 3.5 million Virginians with preexisting conditions would lose protections if the Trump-backed lawsuit to repeal the ACA succeeds.
  • 59,000 Virginia young adults under their parents’ coverage could lose care. Because of the ACA, millions of young adults are able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
  • 38,000 Virginia children could lose their coverage. Almost 3 million children nationwide gained coverage thanks to the ACA. If the law is overturned, many of these children will lose their insurance.
  • 58,000 Virginia Latinos could lose coverage. The percentage of people gaining health insurance under the ACA was higher for Latinos than for any other racial or ethnic group in the country. According to a study from Families USA, 5.4 million Latinos nationwide would lose coverage if the lawsuit succeeds in overturning the ACA.
  • Virginians would lose important federal health care funding, with an estimated reduction of $4.7 billion in the first year. The Urban Institute estimates that a full repeal of the ACA would reduce federal spending on Virginians’ Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) care and marketplace subsidies by $4.7 billion.


Promise: “No one will gain more from these proposals than low- and middle-income Americans.” — Donald Trump, August 8, 2016

Reality: 83 percent of the Trump administration’s $2 trillion tax cut goes to big corporations and the rich. Many Virginia families are getting stuck with the bill.

  • 337,250 Virginia families experienced a tax increase in the first year after the law’s passage.
  • For the 2019 tax year, the average tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent of Virginia earners was $55,290. The average tax cut for the middle 20 percent was $760.

Drug costs

Promise: In 2016, Trump promised to save hundreds of billions of dollars standing up to the pharmaceutical industry, and said he would “negotiate like crazy” to bring down Medicare costs, saying, “I’m going to bring down drug prices.”

Reality: In 2018, a “pharmaceutical industry insider” told Vox, “there has been an education of Mr. Trump…” Last year before the pandemic, drug company prices increased three times faster than wages.

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