The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called out President Biden’s declaration that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, saying he was trying to have it “both ways” by continuing to exercise emergency powers.
“President Biden finally dared to say it on Sunday, declaring in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the ‘pandemic is over.’ Various public-health eminences are saying he’s wrong, but his comments recognize the reality of the disease at this stage and the public mood,” the board wrote.
“The trouble is that his Administration still hasn’t lifted its official finding of a Covid public-health emergency,” the board added.
The piece went on to list several critiques pushing back against Biden’s claim, including Scripps Research Translational Institute Director Eric Topol, who tweeted Sunday, “Wish this was true. What’s over is @POTUS’s and our government’s will to get ahead of it, with magical thinking on the new bivalent boosters. Ignores #LongCovid, inevitability of new variants, and our current incapability for blocking infections and transmission.”
The piece circled back to the board’s own critique of Biden – and of naysayers who claim the pandemic is as strong as ever – writing, “Covid deaths in the first week of September were the lowest since March 2020 when the World Health Organization declared Covid a pandemic, and even Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week said ‘the end is in sight.’”
The board went on to note that COVID-19 had become “significantly less lethal” following a significant number of infections and vaccinations that brought immunity to those who were once vulnerable.
The twist came when quoting White House COVID response coordinator Ashish Jha as saying, “If you are up-to-date on your vaccines today, and you avail yourself of the treatments, your chances of dying [from] COVID are vanishingly rare and certainly much lower than your risk of getting into trouble with the flu.”
“Why hasn’t the President also declared an end to the public-health and national emergencies? If the pandemic is over, then so is the emergency,” the piece argued.
The board argued the reason is that money talks, and doling out billions in aid to Americans is a path the government does not want to stray from.
“This [money] includes more generous food stamps and a restriction on state work requirements. It also limits states from removing from their Medicaid rolls individuals who are otherwise no long financially eligible. The Foundation for Government Accountability estimates these ineligibles cost nearly $16 billion a month.”
The argument circled back to Biden’s controversial student loan handout as well, pointing to the $500 billion canceled under the guise of COVID-19 emergency powers.
“Mr. Biden seems to want it both ways. He wants to reassure Americans tired of restrictions on their way of life that the pandemic is over, and they can get on with their lives. But he wants to retain the official emergency so he can continue to expand the welfare state and force states to comply,” the board wrote.
“Covid can’t be an emergency only when it’s politically useful.”