CAP Action Memo: Trump’s Chaotic Pandemic Response Puts Pennsylvania Health, Jobs, and Social Security at Risk
Pennsylvania unemployment when Trump took office: 5.2 percent
Pennsylvania unemployment now: 10.3 percent
Washington, D.C. — Tomorrow, President Donald Trump will arrive in Pittsburgh to hold a rally in an airplane hanger at Pittsburgh International Airport. This appearance is just the latest in a string of examples of the president disregarding the COVID-19 pandemic, putting Americans at risk despite having known the dangers of the virus since February. Last week, he cheered a decision striking down Pennsylvania pandemic restrictions after the state recorded more than 150,000 virus cases and nearly 8,000 deaths, as cases have been rising in recent weeks while students have returned to schools and college campuses. The week before, he held an indoor event in Arizona, violating his own administration’s coronavirus safety guidelines. The president was fined by the city of Henderson, Nevada, and condemned by the state’s governor for similarly putting its residents at risk earlier this month. The Trump administration’s botched handling of the pandemic, and lies to the American people about the danger it posed, has led to the deaths of more than 199,000 Americans.
As a result of Trump’s failure to control the virus, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania increased to 13.7 percent in July. 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. As of August 22, more than 1.3 million Pennsylvanians are still receiving some type of unemployment benefits. In total, 530,000 fewer Pennsylvanians were employed in August compared with February—an 8.7 percent decline.
Instead of leading the country out of the pandemic, President Trump has continued his longtime 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 Administration Chief Actuary Stephen Goss, would wipe out the Social Security Trust Fund by 2023. More than 2.9 million Pennsylvania residents, or 22.3 percent of the state’s population, are Social Security beneficiaries. Meanwhile, nearly 1 million Pennsylvanians will lose their health coverage if the Trump administration-backed lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) succeeds, and 5.2 million Pennsylvanians with preexisting conditions would lose critical protections against higher premiums or lose their coverage altogether.
Learn more about how the Trump administration’s policies have hurt and put Pennsylvanian families at risk below.
Promise: “[W]e can repeal and replace Obamacare and save health care for every family in Pennsylvania.” – Donald Trump in Scranton, Pennsylvania, November 7, 2016
Reality: The Trump administration is trying to repeal the ACA through the courts with no replacement. If successful, the administration will strip coverage from millions of Americans, raise premiums, and end protections for people with preexisting conditions. In Pennsylvania:
- 996,000 Pennsylvanians could lose coverage if the ACA were repealed.
- 89,000 Pennsylvania 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.
- 5.2 million Pennsylvanians with preexisting conditions would lose protections if the Trump-backed lawsuit to repeal the ACA succeeds.
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’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 Pennsylvania workers. Two million state workers were denied a pay increase, resulting in $7 billion in lost wages.
Promise: “To all the people of Pennsylvania, I say, we are going to put the miners and the factory workers and the steel workers back to work. We’re bringing our companies back.” – Donald Trump in Scranton, Pennsylvania, November 7, 2016
Reality: Pennsylvania has shed 4,300 primary metal manufacturing jobs from July 2019 to July 2020—an 11.8 percent decline.
- Even before the pandemic hit, experts predicted that Trump’s erratic steel and aluminum trade policies would result in job losses of close to 180,000 across the country, including approximately 14,000 jobs in Pennsylvania—many of which were in the manufacturing sector.
- Three Pennsylvania manufacturing hubs—Scranton, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg—are among the top 50 hardest-hit communities in the country from Trump’s erratic trade policies.
Promise: “[W]e will massively cut taxes for the middle class, the forgotten people — the forgotten men and women of this country, who built our country.” – Donald Trump in Scranton, Pennsylvania, November 7, 2016
Reality: Eighty-three percent of the Trump administration’s $2 trillion tax cut goes to big corporations and the rich. Many Pennsylvania families are getting stuck with the bill.
- 375,990 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania earners was $49,510. The average tax cut for the middle 20 percent of Pennsylvanians was $770.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Jesse Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.