With a $6 Billion-dollar budget from Congress, Trump is ready to unveil his plans on fighting the opioid epidemic. Not known for his experience with drug addiction or drug crimes, Trump’s long awaited three-part plan has been unveiled. After waiting since his announcement in October of 2017, where he declared the nation was in a state of emergency due to the high amount of opioid related deaths rising in the United States over the past 5 years.
The Presidents Senior Aid Kellyanne Conway had previously led the administration in combating the crisis, "We call it the 'crisis next door' because everyone knows someone," Conway told reporters Sunday night. "It is no longer somebody else's community, somebody else's kid, somebody else's co-worker. The opioid crisis is viewed by us at the White House as a nonpartisan problem searching for a bipartisan solution."
The President announced the three focus areas he believes will make a difference in curbing opioid related crimes and overdose deaths. Law enforcement and interdiction, prevention and education, and improvements to the treatments available through the federal government. He hopes that through treatment, addicts affected by opioid addiction will be able to find work through their treatment programs and rehabilitate to stable and normalized lives.
As he hinted at the Summit on Opioids in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, Trump plans to uphold the statement he made where he said drug dealers should endure “the ultimate penalty” for their part in drug related deaths. As it is a harsh punishment for the crime, a call with reporters did not get into specifics about the proposal and reporters were referenced to the department of justice to answer their questions. When pressed further about it being appropriate for drug traffickers, a senior administration official again referenced the department of justice but added “capital punishment would be fitting in some instances.”
"The President thinks that the punishment doesn't fit the crime," said Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, when it comes to current punishment for drug dealers. Adding that these penalties would be for dealers who transport large quantities of opioids -- particular fentanyl -- into the United States, not low-level offenders like people that are "are growing pot in the backyard or a friend who has a low-level possession crime.
"His plan will address, and he will address, the stiffening of penalties for the people who are bringing the poison into our communities," the official added.
"Thousands of people are killed or their lives are destroyed, their families are destroyed. So you can kill thousands of people and go to jail for 30 days," Trump said. "They catch a drug dealer, they don't even put them in jail."
As for the prevention and education aspect, Trump has included a federally backed ad to prevent the people from considering using opioids. Similar to the Partnership for a Drug Free America Ad’s ran through the 80’s and 90’s. The first lady has stepped up and helped her husband in creating the campaign, as they both have their different reasons for wanting the change.
"The first lady wants to focus on the well-being of children with ads that lay out you are a somebody, not a statistic, don't start with drugs, and educate them," the official said. "The President is more shock the conscience. He wants to shock people into not using it."The official noted this was the only policy the two have come together on.
Back in October, Trump told the audience at the White House, "we can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic."
His approach is stern, while the alternative can be deadly.
"This is about winning a very, very tough problem and if we don't get very tough on these dealers, it is not going to happen, folks," President Trump said.