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Fund the Front Lines

Fund the Front Lines

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of a column published in The American Prospect. Read the entire column at

One of the lessons of the Trump administration’s late response to the coronavirus pandemic is, those who don’t believe in the mission of government aren’t very good at fulfilling it. …

But the failure to confront the pandemic in a timely way isn’t just Trump’s – and it wasn’t a fluke. Across the country during the past decade, AFSCME members have seen their agencies underfunded and their jobs outsourced or discontinued by anti-government governors and legislators.

Funding for state and local public-health agencies has been cut and they’ve seen their capacity diminished. Staffing levels have never returned to where they were before the Great Recession. Public-service workers have been left without the proper tools and resources to do their jobs.

Today, those same workers are on the lifesaving front lines of the gravest public-health emergency in many decades. …

Let’s be clear: We are all now paying the price for shortsighted austerity measures that renege on the promise of government to protect us. It is time to reverse course and re-invest aggressively in public services – both to get this outbreak under control, and to make sure we’re properly equipped to prevent another one in the future.

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