CAP Action Memo: Trump’s Reckless and Failing 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 travel to Pennsylvania to hold three rallies in the middle of a pandemic that has taken more than 224,000 American lives. Due to the president’s failed pandemic response, coronavirus cases have reached a record high in daily average cases as Trump’s chief of staff admitted defeat over the weekend by revealing that the Trump administration is “not going to control the pandemic.” Despite 38 states seeing COVID-19 hospitalizations rising, Trump continues to lie to the American people about the true danger of the virus even though he knew about its lethality since February. Trump’s insistence on holding rallies across the nation, including 10 in-person rallies last week and 19 this month, continues to demonstrate his dismissal of the pandemic and puts American lives at risk.

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 8 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 12,478 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 earlier this month 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.

As a result of Trump’s failure to control the virus, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was still at 8.1 percent in September, 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, 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.

Even before the president’s mishandling of the pandemic response led to the worst economic contraction in recorded history, Pennsylvania was in the midst of a manufacturing recession. Total manufacturing employment in Pennsylvania declined for seven consecutive months in 2019, indicating that the president’s trade war was wreaking havoc on domestic manufacturing and costing working-class Pennsylvanians their livelihoods.

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 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.

Taxes

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

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