Acknowledging “I know, right now, all anyone can think about is the reported indictments coming from Robert Mueller –please let it be Jarrod!” John Oliver nonetheless opened Last Week Tonight sussing out President Donald Trump’s plan to tackle this country’s opioid crisis.
Opioid abuse claims 140 lives every day or, as Oliver credited a newscaster with translating: “By the time this broadcast is over, three people will be dead.”
Trump got some positive press on Thursday when he unveiled his plan, because he spoke movingly about his brother’s addiction to alcohol, and because he was seen in an affectionate exchange with First lady Melania Trump.
But, though combating the America’s opioid crisis was one of Trump central campaign promises, a lot of his solutions have been underwhelming, Oliver complained. That includes one of Thursday’s key announcements, in which he said, “It’s really, really easy not to take them. And I think that’s going to end out being our most important thing: Really tough, really big, really great advertising. So we get to people before they start.”
So – an ad campaign,” Oliver translated.
“It is important not to start abusing opioids. But that doesn’t really help people already struggling with addiction,” Oliver argued, describing it as “seeing somebody neck deep in quicksand, and putting up a ‘Don’t Do Quicksand’ sign.”
Trump’s ad-blitz strategy famously already was tried, and failed, with Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign.
And yet, that seems to be Trump’s approach, Oliver said, throwing to a clip from one of POTUS’s campaign rallies at which he had a bunch of teens raise their right hands and repeat after him: “I promise Donald J. Trump that I will never take drugs. I don’t want to way no alcohol, but take it easy on the alcohol.”
It is good that Trump is calling attention to the opioid crisis, Oliver conceded. “The problem is, attention is pretty much all he’s giving it. Because he didn’t put out a detailed strategy and and his splashiest step, declaring it a public health emergency, doesn’t actually do very much.”
Because of that designation, financing will come from the Public Health Emergency Fund, which has a balance of just over $56K. The federal government, meanwhile, estimates the crisis costs $75 billion annually.
“Trump has finally chimed in with his two cents about how to tackles this crisis,” Oliver said. “It involves allotting, for the 2.6 million American addicted to opioids, literally about 2 cents each. Trumps fix for our opioid epidemic essentially boils down to: “Here’s two pennies. Go throw them in a fucking mall fountain and wish your addiction away.”