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Trump cruelly guts war on opioids with massive funding cut

The opioid “national emergency” that Trump declared expires next week. Now he’s trying to slash key drug-fighting programs.

By Eric Boehlert - January 19, 2018
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After belatedly declaring a “national emergency” in October to battle the widening opioid epidemic in the United States, Donald Trump’s administration has done virtually nothing to take serious steps to fight the drug crisis.

Indeed, Trump’s supposed war on opioids more closely resembles a collective retreat.

He hasn’t hasn’t appointed a permanent director or “drug czar” to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or asked Congress for additional funding that states insist is needed to tackle the crisis. He hasn’t even nominated anyone to run the Drug Enforcement Administration, the agency that enforces the nation’s drug laws.

Incredibly, not only hasn’t Trump effectively implemented a plan to combat the deadly crisis, but his administration is now actively undercutting key programs already in place.

He’s doing that by completely slashing the budget of the ONDCP by 95 percent. It’s the White House’s second attempt to eviscerate the ONDCP; the first one last year was met with bipartisan resistance.

The new plan calls for the office’s anti-drug grant programs to be moved to other agencies, such as the Department of Justice. But critics insist the move would dramatically diminish the programs.

They also stress that without those high-profile grant programs to oversee, the Office of National Drug Control Policy would essentially serve no purpose.

The office is currently run by an acting director, after Trump was forced to withdraw his first nominee. Worse, as recently detailed, the office’s deputy chief of staff is a 24-year old former Trump campaign worker with zero drug policy experience.

The new budget proposal to eviscerate the anti-drug outpost “is the latest in a series of actions that health policy experts contend show the Trump administration isn’t serious about addressing the opioid epidemic, despite the president’s designating the substance abuse disorder a national emergency,” Politico reports.

Just this week, a bipartisan group of governors pleaded with the administration to expand their efforts to fight to drug epidemic.

Meanwhile, with Republicans overseeing a possible government shutdown, that would mean lots of drug treatment centers around the country will be closed to patients in need of care.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway tried to pitch the shutdown as Democrats undercutting opioid treatment, and specifically blamed Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. But Democrats, of course, don’t control the federal government.

Back in October, Trump boasted that under his administration’s initiatives, the number of addicts “will start to tumble downward over a period of years” and that “it will be a beautiful thing to see.”

Yet today, a staggering 1,000 people in America continue to die each week from the epidemic. And one year into his presidency, Trump has done virtually nothing to address the crisis. It’s the same crisis that, as a presidential candidate, he promised he would tackle and get under control.

Another key promise that’s been broken.


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