Barack Obama takes veiled swipe at Donald Trump’s handling of coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON – Former President Barack Obama appeared to take a swipe at President Donald Trump’s initial skepticism of the coronavirus pandemic, a rare rebuff for a president who tends not to weigh in on the work of other presidents.

“We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic,” Obama tweeted Tuesday, without directly naming the president.

Obama weighed in on the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak in the context of warning about the impact of Trump’s decision to ease up on fuel-efficiency standards the Democratic president had put in place to combat climate change.

“We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall,” he added, linking to an article announcing the rollback of environmental mileage standards put in place by Obama in 2012. 

The Trump administration has faced sharp criticism for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has crippled the U.S. economy and claimed more than 3,100 lives as of Tuesday. The latest death toll eclipsed the number of Americans killed in the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City.

Trump initially sought to downplay the pandemic and suggested opening up the economy by Easter, or April 12, as recently as last week. The president has since said strict social distancing guidelines will remain in place through April 30. 

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Obama, who has mostly used his Twitter account to praise workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and promote advice from public health experts, seldom weighs in on Trump’s record.

The 44th president has  avoided directly criticizing Trump in what he has called the “wise American tradition of ex-presidents gracefully exiting the political stage.” But he called out his successor by name at a speech in September 2018 in which he called on young voters to “restore some semblance of sanity to our politics” in the midterm election.

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The mileage decision Obama criticized was the latest move by Trump to revamp the regulatory policies of his predecessor. Trump has accused Obama of saddling businesses with excessive regulations that he argues have thwarted economic growth.

In addition to loosening Obama’s climate-related regulations, Trump has also criticized the former president’s signature healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act.

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Earlier this month, Obama recognized the 10-year anniversary of his signing of the ACA, noting it was “still under attack right now when we need care the most.” The law is currently being challenged by Republican attorneys general backed by the Trump administration.

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