President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended the administration’s response to the opioid epidemic, saying the drug abuse crisis is a “national disgrace.”
“This isn’t just a health issue.
It’s a national disgrace,” Trump said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The president’s remarks came hours after a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that more than 2,100 people died from opioid overdoses in the first four months of 2017, surpassing the 1,000 mark for the first time in history.
“It’s not a health crisis, it’s a financial crisis,” Trump added.
“It’s a criminal justice crisis.”
Trump also cited the opioid crisis as a reason to appoint new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has pledged to crack down on opioid addiction and protect the nation’s health care system from the threat of prescription drug abuse.
Trump and others have said the opioid problem has been exacerbated by a decades-long trend of government overreach and neglect, with states failing to fund critical addiction programs.
Trump has repeatedly called for drug enforcement and health care reforms, arguing that if the nation does not get serious about the opioid issue, the problem will only get worse.
In his speech, Trump took aim at “political correctness,” claiming that “the media has made a big deal out of nothing.”
He also took aim directly at Congress, which he said has been unwilling to pass any bills that address the opioid problems.
“Congress is totally incapable of passing legislation,” Trump argued.
“This is not just a national embarrassment, it is a financial disaster.”
The President said he will not accept any new federal spending or legislation that does not address the problem.