Monday, April 27, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said federal assistance was for states he liked.

Yesterday, Trump lashed out at the latest of many reports from inside the White House about his leisurely work habits. 

This morning, the Washington Post reported that Trump's daily intelligence briefings contained dozens of warnings about the coronavirus outbreak in the months of January and February, but that Trump ignored or missed them because he "routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week."

While that news was breaking, Trump was spending his morning on social media, which included posting this tweet:

Until today, Trump supported grants to state and local governments, which would fund police departments and medical first responders in every state. It's not clear why he changed his mind, although the burning humiliation of the fallout from his rambling "disinfectant" comments last week probably played a role.

Trump often acts as though he believes the money that American taxpayers contribute to the Treasury is his to dole out as he sees fit. When the recipients of that money are people who can't or won't help him politically—like the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico—he seems genuinely angry and begrudging, and he's tried to sabotage disaster relief before. More recently, he demanded that governors who wanted emergency medical supplies from the federal stockpile had to "treat us well" in the media

In reality, Congress appropriated pandemic relief money, much of which will be administered through state and local governments. (The largest and most densely populated of which tend to have Democratic governors.) 

But those programs are not bailouts. Strictly speaking, bailouts are governments rescuing private companies, not their own citizens. For example, Trump has supported coronavirus bailouts for oil companies and cruise ship lines, while opposing it for the Post Office

Why is this a bad thing?

  • Presidents serve the entire country, not just the parts that voted for them.
  • Disaster relief isn't supposed to be a weapon to be used against political enemies.
  • It's actually really important that presidents read their intelligence briefings.