Trump ‘waiting game’ delayed progress during crises

Period between election day and the inauguration may be the longest in history

Gregg Reese | 11/25/2020, 5 a.m.
Lame Duck: an elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the ...
OW Weekly Cover for Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Our Weekly

Lame Duck: an elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor.


In track and field, one of the most popular events is the 4 by 400 meter relay race, in which teams of four runners compete in four separate legs of 100 meters each. Each contestant carries a baton, and in turn passes (or exchanges ) it off to the next participant. A key part of success of each team is the smooth exchange, wherein the next runner of a given leg starts to accelerate well before the previous runner reaches him (rather than waiting to receive the baton from a standing start ), to maintain the momentum of all four contestants in a given team.

In political elections, the same principle should apply, as a significant period of time transpires between the actual election and the date when the elected official actually assumes office. This, of course brings us to our current situation, with our present Commander-in-Chief, Donald John Trump.

Nearly one month after the election, he remains committed to challenging the outcome, and seems to avoid the traditional sharing of information that is standard with the changing of the guard in this, the highest office in the land.

This breech of protocol has members of his own political party breaking ranks by voicing concerns about the behavior of one of their own. No less a persona than Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has been compelled to issue his own, provocative commentary: “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president," he said in a recent Twitter entry.

When White folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia.

—an old African-American proverb of unknown origin

As the above adage shows, harsh times have affected the children of Africa disproportionately throughout the epochs of their residency in the U.S. The impact of Trump’s current actions are being felt in the community.

“I wish the transition was going better, because we lose time during these crises.”

—Former President Barack Obama

The Affordable Care Act

President Trump’s longshot effort at getting courts to overturn the results of this month’s election is ending in near unanimous failure.

Those stalling tactics are not too distant from Trump’s efforts to delay full implementation (or fully eliminate) the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since the first day of his administration, Trump has repeatedly tried to repeal the ACA, even though it provides crucial consumer protections for health coverage. Even during the pandemic, nearly 20 million Americans have gained insurance since it was signed into law in 2010.

The coronavirus pandemic highlights the importance of comprehensive insurance coverage. To date, a dozen states have reopened enrollment to the uninsured because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is largely in recognition of both the importance of comprehensive insurance for COVID-19 testing and treatment, as well as for helping to mitigate the financial strain caused by the pandemic, seen most clearly in millions of people becoming unemployed.

While the ultimate outcome of the election is not in doubt—and the fact that Joe Biden will be sworn in at noon Jan. 20, 2021 is a certainty—African-Americans have a huge stake in what happens to the ACA within the next two months. Racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care are pervasive and well-documented. Racial and ethnic minorities still lag behind their non-Latino White counterparts across a range of health indicators, including life expectancy, prevalence of chronic diseases, and access to quality healthcare.

African-Americans are at higher risk than the general population of being uninsured and represent roughly 20.8 percent of the estimated 50 million Americans with no health insurance coverage. African-Americans are less likely to receive preventative care and more likely to have chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure/hypertension, obesity and certain forms of cancer.

The 4.5 million elderly and disabled African-Americans who receive health coverage from Medicare also have access to an expanded list of preventative services with no cost-sharing under the ACA. These benefits include an annual wellness visit with a personalized prevention plan, and access to important screenings (diabetes and colorectal), bone mass measurement and mammograms.

The Trump administration has taken numerous actions to discourage enrollment in the marketplaces, ranging from seeking the full repeal of the ACA to meddling with financial assistance rules.

Healthcare workers impacted

Earlier this month, the National Nurses United (NNU) praised the Biden-Harris plan to beat Covid-19. This proposed plan is based on science and public health and the union feels that if implemented immediately, the plan could save countless lives, as it has been proven effective in other countries.

“This is the plan the American people have been waiting for,” said NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN, urging the Trump administration to work with the incoming Biden-Harris administration to implement it immediately. “If this program had been in place since March, we could have saved tens of thousands of lives and alleviated massive suffering in our nation.

“Not only does the plan address the current crisis, it would begin to rebuild the infrastructure needed to be able to respond to infectious disease outbreaks, that are likely to happen more often due to the climate crisis, globalization, and rapid urbanization in the future,” Cortez said.

Major components of the plan welcomed by NNU include the full use of the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of masks, face shields, and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not just to meet demand but to replenish stockpiles and create a supply chain in the U.S.

“The failure of policy makers and employers to guarantee provision of the optimal PPE, such as the N95s, elastomerics, and PAPRs that nurses, health care workers need, is why hospitals have too often become super spreader hot spots. More than 2,000 health care workers, including over 220 nurses, have died from Covid-19,” Cortez said.

President-elect Joe Biden held a nearly hourlong virtual roundtable with frontline healthcare workers last week and expressed support for the nation’s first responders. One nurse from Minnesota shared that she has not yet been tested for the coronavirus despite working on the frontlines since February.

“You all are making extraordinary sacrifices,” Biden told the group. “And you re bearing a significant part of the stress and that’s worsened by the mismanagement of this virus thus far. I want you to know first and foremost how grateful I am.”

During the roundtable, Biden said the transition delay was hindering his eventual administration’s ability to hit the ground running in the defeating the virus. Some nurses working locally have also voiced their belief that the holdup of the presidential transition is only adding fuel to the healthcare crisis.

“Since the start of this pandemic, we have been struggling to provide the highest quality of patient care without enough nurses on the floor to do the work properly and safely,” said Emily Carrera, an RN in the UCLA Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery unit. “In my unit, four nurses have quit since the summer and UCLA has left every one of those positions unfilled, which has led to unsafe staffing levels. At the same time, I have witnessed an outbreak of Covid-19 exposures among staff, with minimal contact tracing from the university and no access to testing unless the nurses have symptoms.”

During last week’s roundtable, Biden expressed hope that after Trump is out of office, Republicans will be bolder in taking action to help control the coronavirus and cooperate with his administration in providing more money for people suffering because of the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis.

“The Congress has already passed that money, it’s sitting there. It’s available right now," Biden said. "Some of our friends on the Senate side are unwilling to spend the money. It’s not a responsible position. And I’m hoping that the reason why my friends on the other side have not stepped up to do something is because of their fear of retribution from the president, and hopefully when he’s gone, they’ll be more willing to do what they know should be done.”

Trump’s impact on Black businesses

Money is what keeps small businesses going, especially during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

“During my work over the past 90 days, I became much more aware of the lack of PPP (paycheck protection program) lending activity that has occurred in LA s Black zip codes,” said Alec Curtis Harris, who has served as the Los Angeles Local Development Company’s (LDC) virtual data intern during the pandemic.

According to the Global Strategy Group, 51 percent of Black and Latinx small business owners asked for assistance of less than $20,000 in temporary funding from the federal government. However, according to a recent survey, only 12 percent of Black and Latinx small business owners received the assistance they requested.

It is historically known that Black-owned businesses have long faced financial challenges when it comes to access to capital. However, in this instance, it is not all about the money.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Black and Latino-owned businesses face greater challenges to survive,” said Michael Banner, CEO of the LDC.

COVID-19 has directly impacted Black-owned businesses because they are more likely to be located in communities with higher numbers of coronavirus cases. That means Black businesses are more likely to be facing larger direct and indirect effects of the pandemic, according to a report produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Being located in areas with a higher, disproportionate number of coronavirus cases, means Black-owned businesses have experienced more restrictions like forced closures and continued social distancing guidelines, which for many, equates to fewer customers.

Meanwhile, small Black-owned businesses have also experienced lending inequities during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the LDC. Community development financial institutions like the LDC say that’s nothing new, as they have been bridging the gap for lending since 1980, serving LA neighborhoods that suffered from redlining and other forms of disinvestment.

Black business owners are looking for ongoing help from the federal government, including a new stimulus bill to extend the CARES Act, which is set to expire on Dec. 31. Something that it doesn’t appear the outgoing president is pushing for, as he continues to question the election results, without producing facts to back up his unsubstantiated claims.

The Committee for Greater LA has highlighted how the intersection of ethnicity and economic disparities has been brought to light by the pandemic:

In many ways, COVID-19 is the disease that has revealed our social illnesses of anti-Black racism, precarious employment, sharp racial gaps in wealth and digital access, unaffordable housing, growing homelessness, unresponsive government, and so much more. Communities shattered, health battered, and businesses shuttered. These are the

real costs of the crisis. But these outcomes are not the result of bad luck and misfortune; rather than a bug in the system, they are a feature in which structural racism has long set the fortunes and limited the potential of communities of color, particularly Black and indigenous people.

Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28 is an opportunity for local businesses to experience an influx of sales after Black Friday.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there has already been a 41 percent drop in active African-American owned businesses, compared to a 17 percent drop for white-owned businesses.

Advocates are encouraging community members to Buy Black and help empower Black businesses, as they try to survive the pandemic.

John Davis, Lisa Fitch and Merdies Hayes contributed to this story.