Even though Donald Trump reports that he’s very wealthy, he did take in a lot of money to to support his presidential campaign. I checked who the large donors were to the Trump campaign and was surprised to see that one of the top donors was the Marcus Foundation. That appears to be Bernie Marcus, founder of Home Depot. He came out a while back in vocal support of Donald Trump (Why I Stand With Donald Trump).
Bernie Marcus also founded the Marcus Autism Center, and if memory serves, jump-started Autism Speaks with about $25M.
Now I am not a supporter of Donald Trump. In fact, I believe Mr. Trump is quite bad for the autism communities. Given that, I have this hope that as a big donor, Mr. Marcus might get some time with Mr. Trump and might be able to advise him on a few topics.
For instance, Mr. Trump once suggested that radio show host Michael Savage should head the National Institutes of Health. Mr. Savage is on record as saying:
In 2008, he said nearly every autistic kid was “a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out” and said “there is no definitive medical diagnosis for autism.”
One guesses that Mr. Trump wasn’t serious but was trolling for publicity. But, just in case, someone should tell Mr. Trump that Mr. Savage is a rather poor choice for NIH head. I mean, really, it’s a $31B concern. Not something you pass off to a guy with no experience, no understanding of medicine and research, and who tells callers to “get AIDS and die”.
If memory serves, the Autism CARES act comes up for renewal towards the end of the Trump presidency. As someone who has supported funding for autism research, perhaps Mr. Marcus could put in a good word with Mr. Trump.
Perhaps we should just step back a bit and ask that perhaps someone could suggest to Mr. Trump that having a policy on disability–any policy–might be a worthwhile thing to consider?
Reading Mr. Marcus’ statements of support for Mr. Trump, it appears that he takes issue with the Affordable Care Act. Perhaps Mr. Marcus could explain to Mr. Trump that many autistics and autism parents rely on this new insurance structure in the U.S., and they can’t afford medical health savings accounts. That any restructuring should take the needs of our most vulnerable into account.
A while back Mr. Trump tweeted that he believes in the failed idea that autism is caused by vaccines. Mr. Marcus, who actually had access to real researchers on the topic, has stated:
“Everything that comes back is the same,” he said. “They cannot find any connection between immunization and autism.”
People are going so far as to claim that Trump took time out of his busy campaign schedule to sit down and talk with none other than Andrew Wakefield. Perhaps Mr. Marcus could talk to Mr. Trump, one billionaire to another, about just how much weight to give to Mr. Wakefield (in case you are wondering–the answer is none. Give him no weight).
Sorry to end on that whole Andrew Wakefield thing. Wakefield is a sideshow act in the autism story. Heck, he’s the understudy to the sideshow. But, he’s also a sideshow that has caused more damage to the autism communities than anyone in recent memory.
Mr. Trump has built his image as someone who shoots from the hip and believes his instincts. Perhaps Mr. Marcus could step in and offer some guidance to Mr. Trump’s instincts. As least as far as autism is concerned.
By Matt Carey