The first sign of trouble came over the summer. Donald Trump made an official public declaration that the opioid crisis is “a national emergency,” but as regular readers know, the president then waited 11 weeks before issuing an underwhelming White House directive on the issue.
As part of that formal declaration in October, the administration set in motion a 90-day period of mobilization, in which “virtually nothing of consequence has been done.” What’s more, that 90-day emergency period ends today.
And so, the Trump administration is giving itself an extension.
The Trump administration has extended the opioid public health emergency issued by President Trump, days before that declaration was set to expire. […]
[T]he emergency orders only last for 90 days, so it would have expired Tuesday. On Friday, Health and Human Services (HHS) acting Secretary Eric Hargan signed an extension for another 90 days, effective Wednesday.
At least in theory, the next 90 days may be more productive than the last 90 days – clearing a low bar, to be sure – but given what we’ve seen, there’s no reason to assume we’ll see meaningful progress.
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine how Trump and his team could’ve handled this much worse.
As we recently discussed, the administration hasn’t only been slow and inefficient, Trump also tapped a political pollster with no relevant experience to oversee the White House’s response to the opioid crisis. Worse, the president’s original choice to serve as the nation’s “drug czar” was accused of taking steps to weaken the DEA’s authority over opioids after accepting generous campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies.
Given what we’ve seen in recent months, is anyone seriously prepared to argue that the White House is leading an effective and responsible campaign to address the nation’s opioid epidemic?