Northam: Trump’s alleged comment about veterans ‘turns my stomach’
SCC extends utility disconnection moratorium through Oct. 5
During a brief COVID-19 update Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam blasted President Donald Trump’s reported reference to wounded and killed U.S. veterans as “losers and suckers.”
Northam has occasionally criticized the federal government for leaving the responsibility of accessing COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment solely to governors and state officials instead of instituting a federal plan, but he appeared to take the president’s alleged slights against military veterans more personally on a day when he mentioned the high suicide rates among U.S. veterans, close to 17 fatalities a day. A U.S. Army veteran, Northam treated wounded soldiers at Germany’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center during the Gulf War.
“I certainly don’t mean to be political, but I say this as a veteran, and I say this as a doctor who took care of a lot of wounded soldiers: When we have the leader of our country referring to people like me and other men and women who have worn the uniform and some who have paid the sacrifice of death … as ‘losers and suckers,’ it just turns my stomach. I have trouble respecting a leader that refers to my fellow veterans in that manner.”
Trump, who received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, reportedly said a French cemetery for American war dead was “filled with losers.” During the same 2018 trip, he allegedly referred to more than 1,800 Marines who died at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed, according to a report in The Atlantic magazine earlier this month. Trump has vehemently denied he made the statements.
The governor also criticized the president for holding in-person political rallies during the pandemic, a practice Northam says “ignores the science and goes against even what his consultants are telling him to do. It defeats the purpose.”
In other news, the State Corporation Commission granted Northam’s request to extend its moratorium on utility disconnections again, this time through Oct. 5. The moratorium, which began March 16, was set to expire Wednesday.
The last time the SCC extended a disconnection ban on Aug. 24, it warned it would not extend the moratorium beyond Sept. 15, instead urging state lawmakers to pass legislation to create a long-term solution for households having trouble paying power bills.
The SCC commissioners issued a statement Tuesday in response to the extension, saying, “Since we first imposed the moratorium on March 16, 2020, we have warned repeatedly that this moratorium is not sustainable indefinitely. The mounting costs of unpaid bills must eventually be paid, either by the customers in arrears or by other customers who themselves may be struggling to pay their bills. Unless the General Assembly explicitly directs that a utility’s own shareholders must bear the cost of unpaid bills, those costs will almost certainly be shifted to other paying customers.”
Northam said he hopes one more extension will allow the House of Delegates and the state Senate to pass legislation in their special session, which is entering its fourth week.
He also said that the state has already set a record for an unprecedented number of requests for mailed absentee ballots this year. So far, the Virginia Board of Elections has received 790,000 requests for ballots, which will be sent out starting Friday. The state also is offering early in-person voting at precinct offices beginning Friday and ending Oct. 31, and election officers at polling places will have personal protection equipment supplies for Election Day, which federal CARES Act funds will cover, Northam said.
Also, close to 500,000 people in Virginia — about 12% of the state’s population ages 18-64 — have downloaded the Covidwise app designed by Apple and Google to trace the spread of the coronavirus through Bluetooth technology, Northam said.