Trump’s failed COVID-19 response will be detrimental to Latinos

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Donald Trump’s failure to quickly respond to coronavirus has brought us to the brink of an economic meltdown. Latinos who are especially vulnerable to recessions will pay a steep price for Trump’s incompetence. 

Despite knowing about a coming pandemic since January the president consistently minimized, deflected and mislead the public about the seriousness of the COVID-19 threat. Since squandering precious time to prepare, our stock market crashed, hospitals do not have enough coronavirus test kits, and states do not have enough health supplies to meet demand.

Trump, who has pinned his reelection on his economic stewardship, has made the pandemic worse and all but ensured an economic downturn of epic proportions. 

Already nearly 3.3 million people filed for unemployment last week according to the Department of Labor. One in three Americans say they or an immediate family member have been laid off or lost their job as a result of the pandemic, and half report a cut in pay or work hours. Economists expect April job losses could range from 500,000 to 5 million.

An economic downturn of this scope would be devastating to the Latino community.

Latinos make up significant portions of the hospitality, construction, leisure and agricultural sectors of our labor market, and are the largest uninsured population in America. These workers and uninsured families are unable to telecommute, will not be paid if their jobs are lost, and likely do not have immediate access to health care. 

The Pew Research Center recently found that anxiety around the coronavirus and the economy is already sky-high with the Latino community. Eight-three percent of Latinos see the coronavirus as a threat to their personal finances, with half viewing it as a major threat. Forty-seven percent of employed Hispanic adults say they would not get paid if the coronavirus caused them to miss more than two weeks or work, compared to 39 percent of black and 29 percent of white respondents. As the Congressional Hispanic Caucus noted only 16 percent of Latinos can currently work from home. 

Before the coronavirus hit 78 percent of workers were living paycheck to paycheck; if these workers cannot work during the downturn, how will they feed their families, or pay the rent? The lack of preparedness coupled with inequitable policies will have devastating consequences for these Americans.

The coronavirus is a natural disaster, our economy and health care system are Republican made ones. 

In 2017 the Republican-controlled Congress passed a massive tax bill without paying for it. Since then the government has increased federal spending to prop up a slowing economy, as a result, deficits have soared to the $1 trillion mark. When deficits get high, conservatives cut social safety net programs that working families are going to desperately need.

Case in point, the Senate coronavirus stimulus package offers half a trillion dollars towards loans for corporations, $100 billion to hospitals, a one-time payment of $1,200 to most Americans and nothing to immigrants.

Latinos need access to health care, we are the most uninsured population in the country. Inexplicably at a time when Americans desperately need access to health care, the president has doubled down on a lawsuit to end the Affordable Care Act. 

The administration has also adopted changes that sharply cut health care marketplace financial assistance, making it much harder for those most at-risk families to receive health care. They did this by cutting premium tax credits for at least 7.3 million consumers and encouraged states to adopt waivers making large cuts to premium tax credits for lower-income people. 

The president’s undermining of the ACA has increased the rate of uninsured every year he has been in office — and millions more Americans are uninsured as a result. That’s millions of Americans who lack coverage if they get sick from the coronavirus. 

Trump didn’t cause this pandemic, but his lack of early action has taken a terrible situation and made it exponentially worse. His incompetence and inequitable economic and health care policies have created chaos and a lack of preparedness will cost our country and our most vulnerable dearly for generations to come. 

Kristian Ramos is the founder and principal at Autonomy Strategies and a former spokesman for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. 

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Healthcare reform in the United States

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