Center for American Progress Action

CAP Action Memo: President Trump’s Chaotic Pandemic Response Puts Wisconsin Health, Jobs, and Social Security at Risk
Press Release

CAP Action Memo: President Trump’s Chaotic Pandemic Response Puts Wisconsin Health, Jobs, and Social Security at Risk

Wisconsin unemployment when President Trump took office: 3.6 percent

Wisconsin Unemployment Now: 6.2 percent

Washington, D.C. — Today, President Donald Trump will travel to Janesville, Wisconsin, to hold a rally despite a report from his very own coronavirus task force telling state officials that the public should avoid “crowds in public and social gatherings.” Wisconsin broke its coronavirus case record for the third time this week. His event will be the ninth of 12 scheduled in-person rallies following the revelation of his COVID-19 diagnosis on October 2. Rather than quarantine for the two-week period recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump has continued to downplay the pandemic and put Americans at risk by holding seven in-person rallies this week—and hosting an in-person event at the White House this past weekend. After risking the health of Secret Service members to take a joyride outside of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he told the country not to let the virus “dominate your lives,” despite the more than 217,000 lives lost in the United States due to the president’s failed pandemic response and his lying to the American people about the true danger of the virus since February. This week, Trump falsely claimed to be immune to the virus despite failing to disclose when he last tested negative. This past Thursday, in an NBC town hall, he continued his disregard for the truth by attacking the effectiveness of masks with an inaccurate claim, discouraging his supporters from wearing masks.

With Wisconsin passing more than 166,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,574 dead, President Trump’s recklessness and lies are putting Wisconsin residents at risk. In the first 2020 presidential debate, Trump claimed that there has been “no negative effect” from his rallies. However, at least two have been linked to surges in cases: His rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was tied to a record increase in COVID-19 cases in the state as well as the death of Herman Cain, while his rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, has been linked to 16 people infected with COVID-19, two of whom have been hospitalized. Trump himself likely contracted the virus at an unsafe event with supporters at the White House.

As a result of President Trump’s failure to control the virus, the unemployment rate in Wisconsin was still at 6.2 percent in August, compared with 4.6 percent when the Trump presidency began. In the absence of federal leadership or any national testing plan, the virus continues to spread, and uncertainty has created wildly unstable economic conditions in the state. Amid this economic instability, Trump cut federal unemployment insurance by $300, leaving Wisconsin single-parent families with one child on a modest budget facing a shortfall of $1,807 per month, according to a recent Center for American Progress analysis. More than 112,500 Wisconsin residents are still receiving some type of unemployment benefit. In total, 238,500 fewer Wisconsin workers were employed in August than in February, a 8 percent decline.

Instead of leading the country out of the pandemic, President 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 1.2 million Wisconsin residents—21.6 percent of the state’s population—are Social Security beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, President Trump has continued his attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After revealing a panicked health care executive order that does nothing to protect preexisting conditions, Trump maintained his commitment to striking down the ACA in court. If the Trump-backed lawsuit to repeal the ACA succeeds, 153,000 state residents could lose health coverage, and 2.4 million with preexisting conditions could face higher premiums or be barred from coverage during the pandemic.

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

Health care

Claim: “I’m asking for your vote so we can … save health care for every family in Wisconsin and for every family in our country.”– Donald Trump in Wisconsin, November 1, 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. In Wisconsin:

  • 2.4 million residents with preexisting conditions would lose protections if the Trump-backed lawsuit to repeal the ACA succeeds.
  • 153,000 residents could lose coverage if the ACA is repealed.

Profits and wages

Claim: “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’s prioritized the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

  • President Trump has the worst jobs record in history and is the only president to have lost net jobs on his watch.
  • Trump blocked a federal minimum wage increase for Wisconsin workers. Approximately 909,000 state workers were denied a pay increase, resulting in more than $2.8 billion in lost wages.


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

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

  • 126,120 Wisconsin families paid more in taxes last year due to the Trump administration’s tax bill.
  • For the 2019 tax year, the average tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent of Wisconsin earners was $39,610. The average tax cut for the middle 20 percent was $790.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Zahir Rasheed at [email protected].