Fact Check: No, Tea Party Is Not to Blame for Obama Failing to Replenish Mask Stockpile

A Don't Tread On Me flag flies over protesters during a rally at Leo O'Laughlin Inc. on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to Macon, Mo. Tuesday evening, April 27, 2010, in Macon. The protest was organized by the Missouri Republican Party and a tea party group called the …
AP Photo/Patrick T. Fallon

CLAIM: Tea Party Republicans were to blame for President Barack Obama failing to replenish medical supplies in the national stockpile.

VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. Republicans gave Obama 90% of the budget he wanted.

The media and the Democratic Party wasted no time in blaming President Donald Trump for failing to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak. After initially calling for national unity, Trump and Republicans have responded in kind.

One of the president’s defenses is that the Obama administration depleted the national stockpile of N95 masks and other materials (So, too, did Democrat-run states like California, after Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger built up a stockpile in case of a SARS-like pandemic.) The USA Today fact-checked Republican claims about the Obama administration’s failure to replenish the stockpile and — shockingly — found those claims to be true.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner noted a “pushback” from the left: namely, the claim that Obama was only stopped in his efforts to replenish the national stockpile because of budget cuts imposed by Tea Party Republicans.

ProPublica, for example, claimed: “[E]fforts to bulk up the stockpile fell apart in tense standoffs between the Obama White House and congressional Republicans, according to administration and congressional officials involved in the negotiations.”

However, the reason there were spending caps was because of the Budget Control Act of 2011, a bipartisan law whose limits kicked in after Obama refused a long-term deal on reducing spending.

Moreover, as York pointed out, “In 2011 Obama asked for $655m for stockpile; Congress gave $534m, 10% cut from previous year. That’s it?”.

Obama received 90% of what he wanted — with cuts thanks to a law he signed.

Could everyone have done more? Probably. Was it the fault of Tea Party Republicans alone? Definitely not.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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