A friend of mine recently told me that he believes the coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t have been as catastrophic if Joe Biden were president; his assumption is that a Biden administration would have been more prepared for it, but does it hold water? Not really.
The Media vs. Reality
Prominent Democratic politicians say that the pandemic is worse in the U.S. because of a Republican president who defunded the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH).
The Trump administration stopped some flights from China and closed the borders in an attempt to slow the spread. In response, Democrats condemned the action, calling it “xenophobic” and a “travel ban.” They called experts from the medical world together, including Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo from Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, to challenge his decision. Maybe the health experts simply disagreed on what the best response was, but either way, in spite of the supposed “travel ban,” another 279 flights were allowed to enter the US from China after the restrictions went into effect.
Some critics believe that closing the border was nothing more than a political gesture meant to establish the concept that Trump is a leader who is capable of implementing some sort of tangible response to an “invisible enemy.” Besides, airlines voluntarily stopped many flights before the order was even given.
At one of the last democratic debates, Biden said, “We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget… He’s wiped all that out… He cut the funding for the entire effort.”
In a way, their assertions are an insult to the CDC and NIH, two groups of highly intelligent researchers and scientists who have responded to a pandemic with unflinching dedication; nonpartisan experts have actually applauded their work.
If Bloomberg truly believes that none of these scientists are capable of knowing, as he says, “what the hell we should be doing,” then he might not understand the situation very well–protocol was in place at the CDC, and it was followed. Experts have done everything they can with the data available to them.
Little was known about the virus as it began to spread. While fatality rates appeared to be low, coupled with high infection rates, much of the data was inconsistent.
One of the CDC facilities is located in my city. The brilliant people who work there question how more funding would have reduced the infection rate or prevented the negative outcomes of the epidemic. After all, the CDC and NIH conduct research, report data, and make recommendations, but these agencies are not responsible for implementing the government’s response.
While there are certainly fewer research grants available to scientists now than there have been in the past, the budget cuts responsible began before 2016. That being said, the Trump administration attempted to cut federal funding to the CDC, and the media ran with that story. The truth is that lawmakers from both parties opposed the cuts, and their annual budget was subsequently increased, as usual.
The federal government has consistently increased funding for disease research. One example is the National Institute of Allergies and Diseases (NIAID), which is headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci. Its fiscal budget for 2019 was $5.5 billion and was increased to $5.9 billion for 2020.
Dr. Fauci is not the president
Because someone like Dr. Anthony Fauci has a long career in the political realm, and Trump has a history of firing officials in similar positions, one might assume that he caved and went along with Trump’s political agenda, but there is no indication that Dr. Fauci would have behaved any differently under a Biden presidency. In any situation, he, Dr. Deborah Birx, and other experts would advise the president, who would then make the final call–these doctors would follow along with the executive decision regardless of whether or not they agreed with the approach. Needless to say, the doctors of the NIAID and Johns Hopkins are not elected.
Dr. Fauci has stated that there’s quite a bit to take into consideration when responding to these circumstances, and that each country is unique; it’s difficult to compare our response to countries like South Korea. While he has suggested that earlier action would most likely have saved countless lives, any politician facing an epidemic caused by a previously unknown pathogen would be hesitant to close a global economy–that includes Joe Biden. Nevertheless, the White House followed his recommendations without hesitation (according to Dr. Fauci himself):
The proposed strategy was coordinated with state governors, some of which were vastly more prepared than others. Likewise, many state governments were better at handling the initial response than others.
Under any president, our government’s inefficiency and poor planning would have left us underprepared
It’s doubtful that someone like Biden leading the federal response would’ve made a significant difference–the concept that he would be some sort of knight in shining armor is media propaganda, attempting to manipulate voters, based solely on misinformation. Instead of bringing well-deserved attention to Biden’s absurd lack of a coherent response to the pandemic or anything close to productive discourse regarding other relevant issues, they choose to focus on might-have-beens.
Most of the masks in the Strategic National Stockpile were depleted during the swine flu outbreak, headed by the Obama administration, but they were never replaced. That’s not to say that it’s all Obama’s fault–after all, the Trump administration failed to take heed to the numerous warnings that our country may not be aptly prepared for a crisis. The blame is shared, and there’s no getting around it.
Biden and Trump only care about November
Both Biden and Trump have led careers based on self-aggrandizement and narcissism. These two politicians will use this crisis, in any way possible, to craft a narrative which will help their respective campaigns.
For anyone to use these circumstances to point a finger at a political party is nothing more than a way to avoid the issues they should actually be addressing. It’s an attempt to divert our attention away from what truly matters and keep us divided as an electorate.
The U.S. is experiencing an economic catastrophe comparable to the Great Depression. It’s sad that, in the midst of it, we have to witness two Wall Street-financed politicians launching deceitful smear campaigns against one another as a strategy to win an election. Their behavior is a disgrace to the ideal of democracy and to our country.
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