Trump's latest tantrum could take health care away from newborns

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Making threats to get what he wants is par for the course for the White House occupant.

Donald Trump is threatening to cut critical funding for health programs in cities he deems "anarchist jurisdictions" — those led by Democratic governors who he claims didn't adequately suppress protests over systemic racism and police brutality this past summer.

Politico has obtained documents containing lists compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services of almost 200 health programs in four cities for which funding is potentially on the chopping block.

The cities, which Trump has called "anarchist jurisdictions," are New York, Washington, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon.

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According to Politico, lifesaving public health programs that provide coronavirus relief, newborn screening, and HIV treatments are endangered if Trump cuts federal funding to these four cities.

Trump is making good on a threat he made in an memo released on Sept. 2 on reviewing funding to "State and local governments [that] have contributed to the violence and destruction in their jurisdictions by failing to enforce the law, disempowering and significantly defunding their police departments, and refusing to accept offers of Federal law enforcement assistance."

In the memo, Trump states that his administration will not allocate federal monies to cities that "allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones."

He added that the federal government will scrutinize any use of federal funds by "jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America's cities."

"My Administration will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses," Trump tweeted later in the day. "We are putting them on notice today."

But making threats to get what he wants is par for the course for the White House occupant.

In July, after disputing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's school reopening guidelines, Trump flouted any counsel from health experts and pushed an agenda to reopen them nationwide.

He threatened to pull federal funding from school districts that refused to fully reopen for in-person learning five days a week during the coronavirus pandemic.

"In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS," Trump angrily wrote in a July 8 tweet. "The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!"

It was a manipulative bluff that most experts agreed was impossible for him to enforce.

In May, Trump threatened to withhold funding from two battleground states, Michigan and Nevada, in response to their efforts to make voting easier during the pandemic.

Trump lied about the Michigan secretary of state's voting plans, originally claiming she sent "ballots" to 7.7 million people prior to the primaries and general election, when in fact she only sent applications for absentee ballots. Trump later updated his tweet to mention "absentee ballot applications." Trump insisted: "This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!"

Many states have been locked in legal battles over voting, with Republican leadership stonewalling any efforts to expand mail-in, absentee, and early in-person voting options.

In April, Trump threatened to put "a hold on money spent to the WHO. We're going to put a very powerful hold on it and we're going to see." He made unsubstantiated claims that the World Health Organization was "very China-centric" and leveled attacks at China for its coronavirus response.

He gave no details about the supposed funding cuts to WHO, and later said,: "I'm not saying I'm going to do it" but that he would "look at ending funding."

In late 2019, Trump threatened to cut U.S. funding to combat dangerous wildfires in California, just one of a number of threats made to withhold funds from the state over policies he didn't like, ranging from sanctuary cities to fuel economy standards.

On Twitter, he publicly chastised Gov. Gavin Newsom for a "terrible job of forest management" and said that he must "clean his forest floors" regardless of what "his bosses, the environmentalists DEMAND of him."

Newsom responded: "You don't believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation."

Trump also tried to pull highway funds from California over claims of poor air quality. He threatened to sic the Environmental Protection Agency on the state, citing unfounded claims that the state's homeless population was polluting its waterways with dirty syringes.

Trump's most notorious attempt to leverage federal monies came in the form of threatening to withhold $214 million in military aid from Ukraine in 2019 to pressure the country's leaders to announce that they were starting an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, then Trump's likely Democratic opponent in the 2020 election, and his son, Hunter.

The actions factored into his eventual impeachment in the House of Representatives on charges of abusing the powers of his office and obstructing Congress.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.