A 2015 Wheeling News-Register editorial
It was the fall of 2015 and then President Obama was set to visit West Virginia, one of the states that was being overwhelmed by the opioid epidemic. On the Sunday before his visit, the Wheeling News-Register editorialized:
It may be that some of the drug addicts President Barack Obama hears about when he visits West Virginia on Wednesday began using cocaine, heroin, pain pills or other controlled substances because of action by his administration.
We do not engage lightly in such speculation. . . .
Today’s Mike Myer’s column
Those were strong words of blame. Today, editor Myer’s column continued the discussion about West Virginia’s opioid addiction problem comparing it to a long war:
America’s longest war — neither Vietnam nor Afghanistan — shows no sign of even winding down, much less ending. To the contrary, the death toll may continue to increase.
What does Myer say about the Trump administration’s efforts to end that war? Nothing, neither “Trump” or “Republican” is mentioned anywhere in the column. The closest he comes is quoting Karl Rove at the Health Plan’s symposium earlier this week:
Commenting on the general ineffectiveness of the federal government, Rove added that he expects Congress will appropriate more money to fight drug abuse, specifically for treatment of addicts.
“My suspicion is that something’s going to be done about the opioid crisis,” he said.
What has the Trump administration done about the drug crisis since taking office 28 months ago?
The Washington Post is currently devoting considerable resources and space to the crisis. Earlier this week they published the 2nd chapter** of what will likely be an outstanding series, “Examining America’s Deadliest Drug Crisis.” Today, they published the following op-ed from their assistant editor, Robert Gebelhoff:
The solutions to the opioid crisis are clear. Trump just resists them.
Gebelhoff admits that Trump is not to blame for the crisis but:
Trump came into office at the exact time that leadership was so desperately needed. Yet he and his fellow Republicans have not only failed to take the lead, they have pretended to make the crisis a priority while offering only perfunctory policy solutions. If we take one lesson from the first three years of the president’s drug policies, it is this: Trump owns the fentanyl crisis.
As The Post’s report makes clear, Trump was well aware of the epidemic even before his administration began. He campaigned on addressing the opioid crisis, specifically mentioning heroin (not fentanyl, the potent synthetic opioid responsible for the most recent surge in overdose deaths in the United States) 57 times during his speeches and appearances.
But, of course, Trump tried to paint the drug as an issue of border security, suggesting that building a wall along the southern border would stop the problem. Most of the pure fentanyl arriving in the United States, however, comes from China. In other words, Trump used the issue as a political prop with no intention of addressing its real causes once in office.
We know what is needed to address this crisis, but the problem is that Republicans and the Trump administration have resisted it from day one.
Gebelhoff then documents his assertions and explains that what is needed is "expanded access to medication-assisted treatment."
More hypocrisy: contrary to what Rove said, something "effective" is being done but Trump, the Republicans, and Ogden Newspapers want to end it
It’s called Obamacare and a major study released last month found that it has been important in the fight against opioids:
A growing body of research suggests that a major part of Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion, is playing a significant role in fighting the deadly and growing opioid epidemic. . . .
The Health Affairs study suggests that the Medicaid expansion, which began in 2014, helped get more people into treatment. The number of people under the Medicaid expansion diagnosed with opioid use disorder more than doubled between January 2014 and December 2016, and the number of people on buprenorphine treatment increased sixfold.
(Note -- Ogden did not publish anything about this study.)
Of course, West Virginia’s Republican attorney general was part of the lawsuit that may end Obamacare, Trump has supported the lawsuit, and Ogden Newspapers have been opposed to the Affordable Care Act from day 1.
Hypocrites? Certainly, and I do not “engage lightly in such speculation.”
*No link available -- Ogden has changed its linking system since the editorial was first published.
** The well-documented Post series has plenty of blame to go around: the first installment in the series was “How the Obama administration missed the warning signs.”