In the ongoing effort to manipulate the coronavirus pandemic to his political advantage, Joe Biden has told a number of lies about President Trump’s response to the crisis. While a comprehensive list of those lies would require a novel the size of The Stand (a book you may not want to read right now), we can easily focus on three big ones.
These lies are in line with most of what Biden says about Trump – distorted facts pulled from a confused reading of the public record. Whether Biden knows they are lies or is simply too frail-minded to parse the difference between truth and fiction doesn’t really matter. He’s spreading misinformation at a time we can least afford it.
Not very presidential of him.
Lie #1: Trump Cut Funding to the Centers for Disease Control
In an interview with ABC News on March 1, Biden hammered the Trump White House for actions he says reduced the country’s preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic.
“They don’t, they’ve cut the funding for the CDC,” he said. “They’ve cut the Centers for Disease Control. They’ve cut the funding for — they’ve tried to cut the funding for NIH, the National Institute of Health. They have eliminated the office we set up — we set up in the president’s office to deal with pandemic diseases. This has been outrageous the way they proceeded.”
Not so fast, Joe. Snopes noted a day later that while Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget does include a proposal to cut funding for the CDC, nothing in that budget has been voted on by Congress, much less enacted. Furthermore, while the proposed budget would take money away from the CDC as a net whole, it actually carves out “an extra $50 million for global health security, which are measures aimed at disease detection and emergencies,” according to the Washington Post.
In other words, Trump was attempting to make the CDC more efficient when it comes to stopping the spread of infectious diseases like the coronavirus – the very opposite of what Biden was suggesting.
Lie #2: Trump Called the Coronavirus a Hoax in February
This lie is built from the same fake-news media strawman as Biden’s repeated claim that Trump called neo-Nazis “very fine people” after the Charlottesville riot. At a rally in South Carolina at the end of February, Trump did refer to the Democrats’ response to the coronavirus as a “hoax,” but he was not referring to the disease itself or its severity.
“We can’t sit by and lose this country to Donald Trump. Today, we take it back — together,” Biden tweeted along with an edited video from the rally.
Trump’s focus in using the term “hoax” was nothing more than the Democratic Party’s reaction and their willingness to turn COVID-19 into a political cudgel against him for the 2020 election. Which is, of course, what Biden immediately attempted to do. And, frankly, continues to do to this day.
Lie #3: Trump Refused to Take Coronavirus Tests From the World Health Organization
If President Trump has an Achilles’ heel in the government’s response to the coronavirus, it is in criticism of the ridiculously-slow rollout of testing kits. Reports say that bureaucratic red tape has much more to do with this unacceptable bottleneck than the president’s actions, but it’s not surprising to see Democrats take full advantage of the situation in their attacks.
Even so, there is a difference between shading the truth and lying, and Biden was guilty of the latter when he accused Trump of turning down the WHO’s offer of testing kits.
“The World Health Organization offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them,” Biden said in a debate with Bernie Sanders on March 15.
The truth, though, as reported by PolitiFact the next day, is that “the WHO never offered to sell test kits to the United States.”
If Biden wants to spend the foreseeable future standing behind a podium in his living room, pretending to be the President of the United States, bully for him. But if he’s going to spend that time lobbing criticism at President Trump, he ought to get his facts straight.