Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) escalated his criticism of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus Thursday, as he offered a suite of new policy proposals for addressing it and circumventing the president’s approach, which he portrayed as severely lacking.
“Unfortunately in this time of international crisis, it is clear to me at least that we have an administration that is largely incompetent and whose incompetence and recklessness have threatened the lives of many, many people in our country,” Sanders said at a news conference in Burlington, Vt., where he took no questions.
Sanders said Trump must declare the pandemic a national emergency.
Because Trump is “unwilling and unable to lead selflessly,” Sanders said, Congress should convene an “emergency bipartisan authority of experts” to help spearhead the government’s response.
In addition, Sanders called for steps to protect Americans from suffering economically and otherwise — advocating that the government step in to pay for health care costs during the crisis and take further steps to safeguard the most vulnerable people from financial ruin.
He proposed moratoriums on evictions, foreclosure and utility shut-offs, “so that no one loses their homes in this crisis.” And he advocated for the creation of emergency homeless shelters and lending programs.
The U.S. senator, who is a longtime champion of a Medicare-for-all health-care system in which the government is the sole insurer, warned of the dangers of not covering all Americans. He reiterated his calls for vaccines to be available free. And he said the government should ensure people can receive cost-free medical treatment.
“While we work to pass a Medicare-for-all single-payer system, the United States government today must it make it clear that in the midst of this emergency, everyone in our country, regardless of income or where they live, must be able to get all of the health care they need without cost,” Sanders said.
Sanders also called for emergency funding for paid family and medical leave.
“Anyone who is sick should be able to stay home,” he said.