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Lancet Report Slams Trump Administration Policies as ‘Virulently Racist’ and Lethal

February 16, 2021 by Daniel Mollenkamp

A report in a major peer-reviewed journal described the effects of the Trump administration’s policies on public health in the US as devastating, virulently racist, and lethally bad for public health.

The report, which was published on Feb. 10 by the Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era, claimed that the administration’s policies caused the deaths of 461,000 Americans annually before the coronavirus and was also responsible for tens of thousands of pollution and coronavirus-related deaths, all of which would have been otherwise avoidable.

The commission which issued the report was created in April 2017, a couple of months into the Trump administration, and had 33 members drawn from universities, legislative bodies, public health schools, indigenous communities, and various other communities. The report is notable for its critical language and where it was published. The Lancet is a well-regarded, peer-reviewed medical journal, giving the statements more weight than if they had been published in another outlet.

Among other things, the paper took issue with the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization, its attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and its poor record on environmental policies. 

It argued that Trump “repudiated science” and also increased the detrimental effect of neoliberal policies that have made longstanding inequities worse. 

The article lays the bulk of the blame on Trump’s appeals to “racial animus” which he used to “enlist” low and middle-income people to pass policies that supported high income people, furthering inequality in the country along racial and class lines, such as his trillion-dollar tax cut.

“Censure of Trump’s virulent brand of racism is imperative but insufficient,” the paper said. 

Among the list of steps the paper argued for the Biden administration to embrace to undo the “health damaging structural problems” that predated Trump are raising taxes to fund social and health problems, mobilizing against structural racism, and mobilizing to avoid climate disaster and global inequality.

The paper also called for a replacement of Medicaid with a unified national health insurance that does not include a means test. 

These actions, and the others outlined in the paper, would require, as the report makes clear, a program that raises taxes on wealthy Americans.  The country must adopt the litany of political changes, it says, to “rejoin the global community in a spirit of collaboration.”

The Biden administration and Congress “must go beyond simply repairing Trump’s damage. They must initiate thoroughgoing reforms to reverse widening economic inequality and the neoliberal policy drift that predated Trump, and redress long standing racism– root problems that harm health and have fomented threats to US democracy,” the report said.

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