Center for American Progress Action

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

CAP Action Memo: Trump’s Reckless 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. — Today, President Donald Trump will hold a rally near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in an airplane hanger at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria Airport. His event will be the third of five scheduled in-person rallies following the revelation of his COVID-19 diagnosis on October 2. Rather than quarantine for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended two-week period, Trump instead continues to minimize the pandemic and put Americans at risk by holding four in-person rallies this week after hosting an in-person event this past weekend. After risking the health of Secret Service members to take a joyride outside Walter Reed, he told the country not to let the virus “dominate your lives”—despite the more than 214,000 lives lost due to his failed pandemic response and his lies to the American people about the true danger of the virus since February. Now, Trump falsely claims to be immune to the virus, despite failing to disclose when he last tested negative or other basic health details.

With more than 176,800 Pennsylvanians infected with COVID-19 and 8,300 dead, Trump’s recklessness and lies put Pennsylvania at risk. In the first 2020 presidential debate, President 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, led to a record increase in COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma as well as the death of Herman Cain, while his rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, has led to 11 people infected with COVID-19, two of whom have been hospitalized.

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, the virus continues to spread, and uncertainty has created wildly unstable economic conditions in the state. Amid this economic instability, federal unemployment insurance has run dry as Pennsylvania’s single-parent, one-child families on a modest budget face a shortfall of $2,779 per month, according to a recent Center for American Progress analysis. As of October 8, more than 482,699 Pennsylvanians are still receiving some type of unemployment benefits. In total, 340,200 fewer Pennsylvanians were employed in August compared with February—an 8.7 percent decline.

Instead of leading the country out of the pandemic, Trump has continued his longtime assault 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, 858,000 Pennsylvania 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. His Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, for whom Trump held a superspreader event at the White House, has not only previously written in opposition to the decisions the court made to uphold the ACA, but also signed on to a letter calling one of them “Unacceptable.”

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

Health care

Promise: “Those with pre-existing 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. In Pennsylvania:

  • 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’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 Pennsylvanian workers. Two million state workers were denied a pay increase resulting in $7 billion in lost wages.


Promise: “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 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.

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 that “there has been an education of Mr. Trump.” Last year before the pandemic, drug company prices increased three times faster than wages.

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