Barack Obama Takes Rare Shot At Donald Trump Over Coronavirus Response

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to guests at the Obama Foundation Summit on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama has remained largely silent about the Trump administration, but that changed on Tuesday. In a new tweet, he spoke out about the current president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the administration’s effort to roll back signature fuel standards that were set in place by the Obama administration to help combat climate change. As CNN reports, Obama urged Americans to vote for “better” in the fall and compared those who denied the seriousness of the pandemic to climate change deniers.

“We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. 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 wrote.

He linked his caption to a story from the L.A. Times about the Trump administration’s decision to roll back fuel economy standards set during the Obama presidency.

The Trump administration has eliminated multiple different rules put in place to protect the environment. This latest rollback was done after the administration argued that it would help the market and would reduce the price of new cars by an average of $1,000.

But experts argue that it won’t ease the price of owning a car and will cause harm to the environment.

“It will harm the air we breathe, stall progress in fighting the climate crisis and increase the cost of driving. The only winner from this action is the oil industry, which wants us stuck driving dirty gas guzzlers as long as possible,” Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator under Obama, said in a statement.

Obama has rarely been critical of the current administration and he didn’t mention Donald Trump by name. However, when he decided to pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement, Obama criticized the move.

In recent weeks, Trump has blamed Obama and his administration for the pandemic. Without naming Obama directly, the president claimed Tuesday that his administration had to deal with a “broken” test for addressing the coronavirus pandemic, blaming the previous administration for not creating a viable testing kit. They would have had no reason to create a coronavirus test, however, as the COVID-19 virus didn’t begin spreading around the world until late 2019.

Trump also blamed Obama for a lack of preparedness within the Centers for Disease Control, claiming that the previous administration “made changes” that hampered the response to the pandemic. Critics have pushed back against that claim, pointing out that Trump was the one who shut down the team that was created to deal with a global pandemic like the coronavirus.

The president has faced backlash for what many say was a delayed and weak early response to the threat of the virus after he downplayed the seriousness of the disease and repeatedly suggested that it was under control and would fade away.

So far, in the United States, the disease has sickened 188,000 people and killed about 4,000.