Did Donald Trump Cut the CDC Budget?

Hillary Clinton appeared on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday and claimed that President Donald Trump had cut funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

 “The Centers for Disease Control had been given the responsibility under the Obama administration to be vigilant and try to get ahead of where viruses like this were formulating, especially if they were animal-to-people transmission viruses, so there was a lot that was done under the Obama administration,” said Clinton.

“The Trump administration severely cut back the CDC budget, cut back on this program of overseas vigilance, but I don’t think it’s a time to point fingers whether it’s from the past or from the present.”

Hillary Clinton is hardly the first person to make this claim. Other Democratic politicians, including the party’s frontrunner for presidential nominee Joe Biden, have made the same assertion. Michael Bloomberg accused Trump of “slash[ing] funding of the CDC and other essential health agencies,” Rep. Adam Schiff tweeted that “The Trump Administration has slashed CDC funding,” and Sen. Brian Schatz claimed “Trump cut CDC by 9 percent.”

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Comments (13)
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  • Good information. So the jabs about cutting CDC funding and accusations of obstruction of justice have a thing in common here. Trump tried to do both, but other people who knew better prevented it. In both cases, the accusations are correct in spirit... kind of.

    I'd like to read/hear The Dispatch's take on the sacking of the pandemic response team, that we keep hearing about. How much of that is true, what effect can we say it had on the current situation, good or bad?

    1. Good questions! And even things the President likes are in a shambles because of under-staffing and/or neglect. So I wonder how that plays out in an agency that the WH would want to cut if they could.
      But just to be on every side of this thing, I'm also open to the idea that CDC cuts in proposed budgets were a safe way to look deficit-hawkish, since it would never get through Congress.

  • Why didn't Hillary just say, "Trump wanted to cut the CDC budget several times but the Democratic House majority wouldn't let him". Same effect, same message (or probably an even better one), and no issues with fact checking.

  • Clinton is, however, correct in saying that under Trump the CDC “cut back on this program of overseas vigilance.”
    Can we add that she was clearly, intentionally manipulating the frighteningly large number of people who think the President does budgets on his own?

    Ooope never mind, James Comey is telling me she did not have the ‘intent’ to manipulate

    Oh and by the way CDC, NIH, ETC, ETC, do you really want us sifting through your mind-numbing budgets to see what you gave priority over.....”epidemic prevention”??

    Oh I know it’s hard to budget properly when you never know exactly how many more billion dollars you are going to get per year. Who can operate under such conditions 😑😑😑

    1. " ... do you really want us sifting through your mind-numbing budgets to see what you gave priority over.....”epidemic prevention”?"

      That would be a fun research project for a quarantined graduate student or ten.

      1. I’m not an expert but if I worked for the CDC, the “Disease Control” part is what I would prioritize. This isn’t something crazy weird like Ebola, this is a much much worse version of the flu which literally happens annually

        The Fire Department focuses on fire because it’s in the name. If we had a federal Fire Department, I’m sure they would have press conferences about how they didn’t anticipate an increased demand for water

        1. I get your point here, but I'd raise a few issues. I think saying SARS-COV-2 is a version of the flu is technically and practically misleading; they may present similarly (causing respiratory diseases with similar transmission), but I believe they're completely different viruses (influenza vs coronavirus) in the same way that SARS-COV-2 and Ebola are completely different viruses. Someone with a better understanding of those distinctions may need to correct me on that if I'm wrong on that though.

          The full name of the CDC is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, so not a great analogy there. I also don't think it's wrong at this point to fault the White House on their budget proposals. They could've gotten in front of this in their most recent budget proposal if they'd wanted to, seeing as it was released after this virus came to light and its impacts were already being felt. I honestly don't know why they didn't make some attempt to do so. Finally, to address your earlier point, there was no new priority for that funding; they were proposed budget cuts, not proposed budget transfers/re-allocations.

          1. I disagree that they ‘“could have gotten in front of this in their most recent budget proposal”. They SHOULD have gotten in front of this literally at any point since the agency started.

            We are unable to supply sufficient masks. That is the very first item you would want to have if there is a pandemic of basically any variation. That means they flatly did not have a plan. If their plan was to handle a ‘strategic mask reserve’ by relying on what is on the shelves at Walmart during a panic then they are simply incompetent.

            God knows what else they have utterly neglected to plan for if the simplest thing I can think of was a total faceplant

            My expectations are EXTREMELY low for everyone in federal bureaucracies. I do not expect the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent or even control disease. But when there is a pandemic I expect it to look like they at least thought about it before. They clearly didn’t

        2. Good comparison.

  • From the first budget document link:

    Does "below the FY 2017 Annualized Continuing Resolution (CR) level" mean an actual reduction in the dollar amount requested, vs. the previous year's, or does it mean a higher level than the previous year's but a smaller amount than the automatic increase?

  • Notice that the expectation of funding and uncertainty about it can be as important as the funding amount that ultimately gets approved when it comes to planning and coordination. This is a less recognized result of Congress's annual failure to complete budget work on time. We always notice they spend too much (except on our favorite things!), but often overlook the poor efficiencies and effectiveness that come from indecision and unreliable timing.