by Robert Romano
“I would shut it down, I would listen to the scientists.”
That was former Vice President Joe Biden telling ABC News’ David Muir that if elected President in November, he is prepared to shut down the U.S. economy again to deal with the Chinese coronavirus.
“I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus… In order to keep the country running and moving and the economy growing and people employed, you have to fix the virus, you have to deal with the virus,” Biden explained.
Apparently, Biden’s plan is to hold the country hostage until there is a vaccine, even though there has never been an effective vaccine for coronavirus. There are several candidate vaccines in development, but there is no assurance they will work.
Yet, Biden has already decided there can be no economic growth or jobs unless and until the virus goes away.
The reality is that the virus may never go away, and the vaccine might not work.
And we’ve already seen what more lockdowns will do.
When the U.S. economy shut down amid state-based lockdowns in the spring, 25 million jobs were lost as labor markets bottomed in April, and the Gross Domestic Product contracted a record 32.9 percent annualized in the second quarter.
Since then, 10.1 million jobs have been recovered the past three months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey, with millions more expected in August and the third quarter is projected to be double-digit growth as President Donald Trump and state governors have been moving forward with plans to safely reopen the economy and virus cases have stabilized.
In an Aug. 24 tweet, President Trump responded to Biden’s call to shut down the country again, writing, “Joe Biden has said he would lock down the Country again. That’s crazy! We’re having record job growth and a booming stock market, but Joe would end it all and close it all down. Ridiculous!”
The President’s plan for reopening includes a proposed $105 billion to incentivize schools to allow for in-person instruction with protective equipment including masks as a stopgap measure while we await the vaccine. Biden’s $92 billion plan in contrast allows states to stay closed forever, without any strings attached.
In the meantime, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Politico in early August that following the administration’s strategy for virus mitigation that there is no need for another shutdown.
“That would not require shutting down again,” Fauci said, adding, “There seems to be a misperception that either you shut down completely and damage a lot of things, mental health, the economy, all kinds of things, or let it rip and do whatever you want. There’s a stepwise fashion that you can open up the economy successfully. You don’t have to lock down again, but everybody has got to be on board for doing these five or six fundamental public health measures.”
Instead of another lockdown, Fauci listed things the American people can do instead, even without a vaccine, which he says he is “cautiously optimistic” about: “Universal wearing of masks, six feet or more; avoid crowds; outdoor better than indoor; stay away from bars if you possibly can and in some cases even have authorities close them, that’s a hotbed of transmission; and maintain hand hygiene.”
So, if the American people take proper precautions, there is no need for another shutdown. Biden says he would listen to the scientists, but he failed to note that the experts are not recommending a shutdown presently. It was a hypothetical question.
Like Fauci, both Biden and Trump have supported Americans wearing masks. 49 states already have mask requirements of some sort, although Biden says he would go a step further and issue a constitutionally dubious national mandate for masks. In the meantime, Gallup reports that 86 percent of all Americans say they already wear masks indoors when they go shopping.
In contrast to Biden, President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force put forth a strategy for safely reopening in phases, and to respond to hot spots. In sun belt states like Florida and Texas, when an uptick of cases occurred earlier this summer, states responded with closures of bars and reducing capacity of restaurants.
What Trump is offering reflects our federalist system, where states take the lead, is a responsive and flexible strategy that acknowledges that in certain cases, you may need to temporarily have more restrictions when the virus flares up regionally. Biden is offering a one-size-fits-all strategy, stating, “we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus” including “the economy growing and people employed” and so he “would shut it down.”
If Biden wins, we may as well get in line for unemployment right now, because it’s going to be a very long line.
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Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.