A Month After Trump Declared Opioids a ‘national emergency,’ His Team still Has no Plan

by Hunter –

As it turns out, a presidential declaration of national emergency doesn’t amount to much.

When President Trump announced in early August, following a presidential commission’s recommendations, that the opioid crisis was a “national emergency,” he called it “a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”A month has now passed, and that urgent talk has yet to translate into urgent action. While the president’s aides say they are pursuing an expedited process, it remains to be seen how and by what mechanism Mr. Trump plans to direct government resources.

Just to expand a bit on that point there, it’s not just that Donald Trump somehow surprised his staff with his declaration that the opioid crisis was a “national emergency”—his own presidential commission recommended that he do so. No, he shocked everyone by actually saying it, and then … doing nothing.

Nobody was prepared for the obvious question: “So, um, now what?”

His statements have left advisers scrambling to fulfill his pledge, creating a long lag between a presidential statement and an actual action to follow it.

The central problem appears to be that doing something about the opioid crisis would require money, and nobody is interested in spending that money, and House Republicans would never allocate the money anyway, so the administration is simply … stuck.

One idea has been to make FEMA the responsible agency, thus funding the opioid response via money intended for natural disasters, but that is not likely to go over well on any front. Another is for Trump—the one with actual duties, as opposed to, say, Ivanka—to pressure Congress to allocate money toward the thing he declares to be a national emergency even though his own party is against it. That seems even less likely.

So the short version is that it’s been a month and nobody in the administration has a clear plan on how to translate Trump’s off-the-cuff declaration that opioid abuse in America is indeed a national emergency into any actionable plan. They’re stymied. They’ve tried nothing and they’re all out of options.

There are many areas where the Trump administration’s sheer incompetence is saving us from the full brunt of their odiousness. This is not one of them. The federal government could do some good here, if so inspired, but standard-issue Republican orthodoxy may block them from doing so—even if they try.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos