Center for American Progress Action

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

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

Pennsylvania unemployment when Trump took office: 5.2 percent

Pennsylvania unemployment now: 8.1 percent

Washington, D.C. — Today, President Donald Trump will arrive in Erie, Pennsylvania, to hold a rally in an airplane hanger at Erie International Airport. The event will be the 13th of 14 scheduled in-person rallies and his second event in Pennsylvania following the revelation of his COVID-19 diagnosis on October 2. Rather than quarantine for the two-week period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump has continued to downplay the pandemic and put Americans at risk by holding nine in-person rallies last week. He also attended an indoor church service in Las Vegas with aides Kayleigh McEnany and Hope Hicks—who also tested positive for COVID-19 in the past month—during which they did not wear masks.

Even after being hospitalized, Trump told the country not to let the virus “dominate your lives,” despite the fact that more than 219,000 lives have been lost due to the president’s failed pandemic response and his lies to the American people about the true dangers of the virus, which he knew as early as February. 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 7,300 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 just last Thursday, at an NBC town hall, he continued to disregard science by attacking the effectiveness of masks with an inaccurate claim and discouraging his supporters from wearing masks.

With Pennsylvania passing more than 188,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 8,400 deaths, Trump’s recklessness and lies are putting Pennsylvanians 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 was tied to a record increase in COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma as well as the death of Herman Cain, while his rallies in Minnesota have been linked to 23 people becoming 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 Trump’s failure to control the virus, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was still at 10.3 percent in August compared with 5.2 percent when the Trump presidency began. In the absence of federal leadership or any national testing plan, COVID-19 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 initially and now has let that relief run out, leaving Pennsylvania single-parent families with one child on a modest budget facing a shortfall of $2,779 per month, according to a recent Center for American Progress analysis. More than 447,940 Pennsylvanians are still receiving some type of unemployment benefit. In total, 358,600 fewer Pennsylvanians were employed in August compared with February—an 8.7 percent decline.

Instead of leading the country out of the pandemic and protecting vulnerable seniors, 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 Chief Actuary Stephen Goss, would wipe out the Social Security Trust Fund by 2023. Approximately 2.8 million Pennsylvania residents—22.3 percent of the state’s population—are Social Security beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, Trump has maintained his commitment to striking down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in court. If the Trump-backed lawsuit to repeal the ACA succeeds, 858,000 state residents could lose health coverage and 5.3 million Pennsylvanians 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 Pennsylvania families and put them at risk below.

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.

  • 5.3 million Pennsylvanians with preexisting conditions would lose protections if the Trump-backed lawsuit to repeal the ACA succeeds.
  • 858,000,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.

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 in history and is the only president to have lost net jobs on his watch.
  • Trump blocked a federal minimum wage increase for Pennsylvanian workers. 2 million state workers were denied a pay increase, resulting in $7 billion in lost wages.


Promise: “The largest tax reductions are for the middle class.” – Donald Trump in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, October 22, 2016

Reality: 83 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 was $770.

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