Center for American Progress Action

CAP Action Memo: President Trump’s Failed Pandemic Response Continues To Put Wisconsin Health, Jobs, and Social Security at Risk
Press Release

CAP Action Memo: President Trump’s Failed Pandemic Response Continues To Put Wisconsin Health, Jobs, and Social Security at Risk

Wisconsin unemployment when President Trump took office: 3.6 percent

Wisconsin unemployment now: 5.4 percent

Washington, D.C. — Today, President Donald Trump will travel to West Salem, Wisconsin, to hold an in-person rally in the middle of a pandemic that has taken more than 225,000 American lives. The rally in West Salem will be his third in Wisconsin in the past 10 days, as the state reels from its deadliest week of the pandemic yet. The Badger State is breaking records for new average daily cases as doctors urge Trump to stop having rallies. His insistence on holding rallies across the nation—including 10 in-person rallies last week and 23 this month—continues to demonstrate the president’s dismissal of the pandemic and willingness to put American lives at risk.

Due to the president’s failed pandemic response, coronavirus cases have reached a national record-high in daily average cases, with Trump’s chief of staff admitting defeat over the weekend and revealing that the administration is “not going to control the pandemic.” Even as 38 states are seeing rising COVID-19 hospitalizations, Trump continues to lie to the American people about the true danger of the virus, even though he has known about its lethality since February. Last week, Trump claimed, “We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away,” despite coronavirus cases rising in all but nine states and the United States logging its highest seven-day average of cases with more than 68,767 cases per day.

Even after being hospitalized with COVID-19, Trump told the country not to let the virus “dominate your lives” and has repeatedly claimed over the past eight months that the virus will “disappear.” Following his recovery using treatments unavailable to the general public, Trump falsely claimed to be immune to the virus, despite failing to disclose when he last tested negative. More than 13,012 Americans have died from the coronavirus since the president promised to provide the “unbelievable medicine” he took at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center free of charge. And in an NBC town hall earlier this month, Trump continued to disregard science by attacking the effectiveness of masks with an inaccurate claim and discouraging his supporters from wearing masks. With Wisconsin passing more than 201,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 1,780 deaths, President Trump’s recklessness and lies are putting the state’s residents at risk.

As a result of President Trump’s failure to control the virus, the unemployment rate in Wisconsin was still at 5.4 percent in September, compared with 3.6 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 110,050 Wisconsin residents are still receiving some type of unemployment benefit. In total, 212,700 fewer Wisconsin workers were employed in September than in February, a 7.1 percent decline.

Even before Trump’s catastrophic handling of the coronavirus pandemic crashed the economy, the Wisconsin manufacturing sector was already in contraction. In 2019, the number of Wisconsin residents employed in the manufacturing sector declined for nine straight months. Moreover, mass layoffs in Wisconsin increased by 25 percent in the two years following the president’s disastrous trade war compared with the two preceding years.

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 1.3 million Wisconsin residents—21.6 percent of the state’s population—are Social Security beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, President Trump has continued his attacks 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 people 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 Eau Claire, 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 has 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: 83 percent of the Trump administration’s $2 trillion tax cut went 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].