Biden is deceiving the public about the prior administration’s vaccine project. I should know, because I was there.
Millions of people across the United States have already received doses of vaccines against coronavirus — vaccines developed as part of Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the project conceived, initiated, resourced, and largely executed under Trump administration leadership. Daily, millions more join their ranks. But listening to members of the liberal media and the Biden administration, one could be forgiven for not clearly understanding the pivotal role leaders within the Trump administration, along with private-sector partners, played in developing, manufacturing, and delivering over 300 million safe and effective vaccines in less than one year to the American people.
After President Biden’s address to the nation last week, Nicole Wallace of MSNBC commented that OWS “didn’t do anything to get a needle into the arm” of any American. In February, Vice President Harris commented that the Biden administration was in many ways “starting from scratch.” And, Jeff Zients, from the administration’s COVID-19 task force, commented recently that the Trump administration had “no plan” to vaccinate Americans. The Biden administration’s overall COVID-19 response performance in its first 100 days, averaging over 75,000 cases per day and over 1,700 fatalities per day, has been less effective than the year during which the Trump administration was overseeing the response (~60,000 and ~1,100, per day, respectively). On January 20, 2021, there were approximately 24.5 million total COVID cases and 405,000 fatalities in the U.S. This was one year into the pandemic. In the first 100 days of the Biden administration, we added 7.8 million cases (32.3 million total) and 170,000 fatalities (575,000 total). So much for extinguishing the virus. Also, as of May 1, close to 70 million of the 310 million vaccine doses distributed are sitting idle in U.S. vaccination sites. We were criticized for having less than one-tenth this number of vaccines sitting idle. These are inconvenient facts, so one will not likely hear them from MSNBC or CNN. Clearly, President Biden is learning that governing is more difficult than campaigning.
To prepare for a coronavirus surge, initial public-health guidance advised hospitals and medical facilities to shut down for non-emergency care. The motivation was largely to preserve medical resources for those infected with the coronavirus, although another benefit has been to reduce the virus’s contagion to other patients.
Acting on federal advice, 31 states and the District of Columbia restricted non-emergency care at hospitals and surgery centers, including cancer treatments and other potentially life-saving services. Others voluntarily shut down elective services. On the positive side, the chain reaction will accelerate adoption of telehealth, which was vastly underutilized despite its promise to streamline care, reduce wait times, keep sick people out of waiting rooms, and address geographic disparities in access to care. On the negative side, hospital capacity has idled, devastated provider revenue, and led to widespread furloughs.
State and federal laws and regulations are hindering the private sector’s efforts to help fight the outbreak.
Effectively responding to the coronavirus epidemic requires innovation from private companies, medical professionals, and entrepreneurs. These folks are ready to perform heroic acts, but government rules and red tape are getting in their way. To take one tragic example, it appears that problems at the Centers for Disease Control led to early delays in testing and unreliable tests.
We must untangle this red tape to save lives. Hospitals and medical facilities in hotspots already are overwhelmed with patients, and the demands placed on them will only increase in the coming months. They need to rapidly expand capacity now to avoid being forced to ration care, as we already see happening in Italy, later.
Far from proving charges that the administration has “sabotaged” Obamacare, new Census Bureau dataprovide compelling support for the president’s actions.
New numbers released this week show a sizable increase in the number of Americans without health insurance—from 26 million in 2017 to 28 million in 2018.
Democrats were quick to argue the Trump administration is sabotaging Obamacare. The truth is that the Trump administration is working aggressively to increase options for consumers to get more affordable, flexible insurance coverage, as Brian explains in his new paper, through:
- Short-term, limited-duration plans
- Health Reimbursement Arrangements
- Association Health Plans (which Democrats have sued to block)
- Flexibility for states to do a better job of helping those with pre-existing conditions, and other actions.
Despite all the hoopla about Obamacare and its individual plans, most working-age Americans still get their health insurance through their employers. And as countless health wonks have noted, there are lots of problems with that. Employer offerings are limited and are not portable when people switch jobs. And the tax advantages that perpetuate this situation distort the economy: They encourage companies to offer more and more compensation in the form of health benefits, and they are unfair to workers without access to employer plans.
Just as choice and competition make products and services less expensive in the rest of the economy, they can do so in health care. We must substantially expand Americans’ freedom to choose their own health insurance—both in public and private programs. We should gradually convert the Medicaid program from its current single-payer form into one in which enrollees receive tax credits to buy private insurance. And we should strengthen Medicare Advantage, the market-based form of Medicare whose consumer-driven structure has incentivized insurers to offer broader benefits, lower out-of-pocket costs, and better health outcomes than traditional Medicare does.
In Britain, both health insurance and the delivery of health care is socialized. But the NHS is no paradise. Open a random edition of a British daily newspaper and you will likely encounter an article about some egregious problem that the NHS has failed to solve. For example: NHS doctors routinely conceal from patients information about innovative new therapies that the NHS doesn’t pay for, so as not to “distress, upset or confuse” them; terminally ill patients are incorrectly classified as “close to death” so as to allow the withdrawal of expensive life support; NHS expert guidelines on the management of high cholesterol were intentionally not revised after becoming out of date, putting patients at serious risk in order to save money.
President Trump has tasked three Republican senators with coming up with a replacement for Obamacare if courts strike it down. It’s a prudent contingency plan. Republicans should, for that matter, advance their own health-care plan even if the lawsuit fails. They cannot prevent Democrats from attacking them over health care by abandoning the issue.Obamacare’s key innovation was not the subsidization of Americans’ health-insurance purchases, an enterprise in which the federal government had been engaged for decades, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale. It was the centralization of health-insurance regulation in Washington, D.C. It is that centralization, and accompanying curtailment of choice and raising of costs, that Republicans tasked with replacing Obamacare should now work to undo.
The 2020 presidential race will pit the Democrats’ “Medicare for All” proposal against the Trump administration’s “Medicare for Less.” At least that’s how the Washington Post and some Democratic political operatives suggest it will play out. According to Post, progressives are looking to make political hay out of the contrast between their dream of enlarging the Medicare program to cover all 327 million Americans and a Trump budget that proposes to reduce Medicare spending. “Free” medical care vs. pushing granny off the cliff. On closer examination, most of the Medicare savings contained in the president’s budget would likely save beneficiaries money.
Academic justifications for 70% marginal tax rates, such as Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez’s, are nothing more than a veneer intended to deceive a wider audience that doesn’t know better. Diamond and Saez’s original argument for a 70% tax rate—that it would enhance both tax revenue and social welfare—ignores the long-term consequences of high tax rates on growth. They assume that taxing, redistributing, and consuming income that taxpayers would otherwise invest doesn’t reduce investment. While admitting that taxes discourage work, they similarly assume that a reduced supply of properly trained talent has no effect on the willingness of investors and entrepreneurs to take risks that grow the economy.