March 16, 2020 (American Thinker) — My online friend Jeffrey Satinover compared the president to an ultrasonic whistle “that causes all of the vermin to rush frantically out of their hiding holes, and you suddenly realize how infested the place is.” This week’s presser was a masterstroke that exposed the lie of socialism versus capitalism, central power versus federal systems with its diffusion of power and responsibility, and the effects of a dynamic leader versus conventional ones. In the process, we can see how Trump’s fight against open borders, bureaucratic red tape, and globalized production is a critical part of national health and security.
Porous national borders aid the spread of infectious disease, and given China’s mendacious two-month secrecy about the Wuhan virus outbreak, the president’s shutting down travel from China gave us a bit more time to cope with its spread despite the Chinese-created lag. Europe’s E.U.-mandated open borders policy, in contrast, has made the continent the new epicenter of the pandemic. Banning all flights of non-U.S. citizens and permanent residents from Europe as the president has done also gives us more time to respond. On Sunday, all of Spain shut down. Poland, defying the E.U., has closed its borders. Italy with hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers is a sad case where the medical facilities are so overwhelmed that doctors, suffering great emotional pain in the process, must remove life-saving equipment from the old and infirm to save younger patients. Italy is a country that highly values its elders. As American Thinker reported, “[t]he central planners don’t have enough beds. There’s not enough staff. There’s no free market to step in and pick up the slack. It’s not allowed.”
Adding insult to injury, the E.U. requires open borders of its member states yet has refused Italy any help. Consider this a lesson to remember: in a pinch, no matter how much one-world blather national leaders mouth, they look after their own interests first (expecting us, of course, to be the exception).
Congress is late getting this first principle. It took the House Democrats until Thursday to finally withdraw from the calendar a vote on the bill to severely limit the president’s right to impose travel restrictions, and it fought bitterly to prevent the construction of the wall, which, along with other measures by the administration, has largely stemmed illegal entry into the country.
Joe Biden this week tweeted, “A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it.” True enough, but it will slow down and already has slowed down the transmission enough to give us breathing room to take action.
Socialism versus Free Markets
As he’s learned nothing over his many decades on Earth, Bernie Sanders cites the virus as proof we need socialized medicine. In fact, socialized medicine is killing people, and free markets are saving them.
While countries like Italy are hamstrung by government controls in dealing with it, America’s biggest companies have stepped up to the plate, offering space in their facilities for drive-in testing; speeding up the production and development of test kits, vaccines, and information technology; and providing assistance to the homebound. Vice President Mike Pence tapped into the broad private sector to battle the virus. And these companies promptly and significantly responded — Roche, Google, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Quest Diagnostics, Signify, LabCorp, and LHC! I couldn’t help comparing Pence’s creativity and executive skills with Joe Biden’s when, as the vice president, he said his job was to “focus like a laser on a three-letter word [sic]: J-O-B-S.”
In fact, the one part of the U.S. that did not respond well was the federal bureaucracy — not private industry, not the White House. A State Department official ignored a presidential order to hold returnees from China overseas in quarantine. Worse, due to a 1938 regulation, inattention and foot-dragging in the CDC, and the bureaucrats there and in prior administrations, the CDC was not prepared and actually hindered a faster response. Power Line quotes Cato:
[O]fficials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stymied private and academic development of diagnostic tests that might have provided an early warning and a head start on controlling the epidemic that is now spreading across the country. … [T]he CDC required that public health officials could only use the diagnostic test designed by the agency. That test released on February 5 turned out to be badly flawed. The CDC’s insistence on a top-down centralized testing regime greatly slowed down the process of disease detection as the infection rate was accelerating. … On February 29, the FDA finally agreed to unleash America’s vibrant biotech companies and academic labs by allowing them to develop and deploy new tests for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
And then the New York Post:
Overregulation of diagnostic testing has played a major role in this delay[.] … Test protocols using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were publicly available shortly after Chinese researchers published (or described) the sequence of the virus in mid-January. The World Health Organization (WHO) used a freely available German procedure to create a test kit, shipping 250,000 tests to 159 laboratories worldwide. … CDC testing criteria have precluded recognizing community spread because of requirements stipulating recent travel to China or exposure to an infected person. Adherence to these guidelines delayed testing in the first probable case of community transmission[.] … The FDA has not allowed the experienced and highly skilled professionals at public-health, academic and commercial laboratories to set up their own laboratory developed tests (LDTs), and no manufactured test kits have been authorized for sale in the US. In Europe, several companies, at least one US-based, have regulatory approval to sell test kits there.
“In short,” John Hinderaker concludes, “the last thing we need to effectively combat pandemics is a more centralized and bureaucratic health care system.”
Reason has more on the issue of dated, cumbersome government controls and how they made the epidemic worse:
Seattle infectious disease expert Dr. Helen Chu had, by January, collected a huge number of nasal swabs from local residents who were experiencing symptoms as part of a research project on flu. She proposed, to federal and state officials, testing those samples for coronavirus infections. As the Times reports, the CDC told Chu and her team that they could not test the samples unless their laboratory test was approved by the FDA. The FDA refused to approve Chu's test on the grounds that her lab, according to the Times, “was not certified as a clinical laboratory under regulations established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a process that could take months.”
In the meantime, the CDC required that public health officials could only use the diagnostic test designed by the agency. That test released on February 5 turned out to be badly flawed. The CDC's insistence on a top-down centralized testing regime greatly slowed down the process of disease detection as the infection rate was accelerating.
A frustrated Chu and her colleagues began testing on February 25 without government approval. They almost immediately detected a coronavirus infection in a local teenager with no recent travel history. Chu warned local public health officials of her lab's finding and the teenager's school was closed as a precaution. The teen's diagnosis strongly suggested that the disease had been circulating throughout the western part of Washington for weeks. We now know that that is likely true.
Did the FDA and CDC functionaries commend Chu for being proactive? Not at all. Washington state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist recalled, “What they said on that phone call very clearly was cease and desist to Helen Chu. Stop testing.” On February 29, the FDA finally agreed to unleash America's vibrant biotech companies and academic labs by allowing them to develop and deploy new tests for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Due to red tape, the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. will be worse than it should have been.
Those who advocate for more government control assume, I suppose, that old procedures and regulations will periodically be reviewed and reformed. I’ve never seen that happen. Have you? The hampering regulations here dated back to FDR in 1938. After the swine flu botch, they knew this, even if they’d earlier overlooked it. The straitjacket was not loosened even then.
As the president tweeted:
For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further[.] …
Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!
Indeed, instead of streamlining the testing system, under Obama, the CDC expanded its mandate beyond its core mission of preventing and controlling infectious diseases to look at things clearly peripheral to it. (I recall that one big effort of the CDC was to study gun violence, which, ironically for Obama’s apparent purposes, ended up demonstrating that guns played a significant self-defense role, and the majority of the deaths by gun were self-induced — that is, suicides.)
There’s reason to believe that the left is all for socialist medicine with its necessary rationing of care (and that means the earlier death of the elderly and infirm). Compare in the presser this week Dr. Anthony Fauci’s plea to take necessary measures to protect our valued elders with the views of Joe Biden’s health adviser, Ezekiel Emanuel, who thinks there’s no reason to live beyond 75 and encourages people above that age to avoid flu shots and opposes “life-sustaining interventions,” vaccines, and antibiotics for the elderly. (Biden is 77. One assumes that Emanuel would make an exception for him.)
I confess: until I realized the impact on workers, communities, and our national security, I, too, thought it sensible to have goods produced where it was cheaper to produce them. It was Trump who first sounded the alarm on the loss of our manufacturing capacity that made me see things in a different light. It may not be a national security or health issue to have sneakers produced abroad, but it makes a big difference, as we can see, when the Chinese have a chokehold on the production of essential pharmaceutical goods. We are trying to end this by bringing pharmaceutical production back home — maybe even to depressed Puerto Rico, where many such facilities once were located.
Joe Biden doesn’t think China’s a problem — or at least he didn’t until, as usual, he backstroked away from it when criticized.
But it is a problem, as China threatens to cut off our supply of drugs needed to fight the pandemic:
In an article in Xinhua, the state-run media agency that's largely considered the mouthpiece of the party, Beijing bragged about its handling of COVID-19, a virus that originated in the city of Wuhan and has spread quickly around the world, killing nearly 5,000 people and infecting thousands more. The article also claimed that China could impose pharmaceutical export controls which would plunge America into ‘the mighty sea of coronavirus.’
If the Chinese mendacity in alerting the world to the virus wasn’t enough to encourage production of drugs away from there, this threat will surely seal the transition away and at a time when Chinese export markets must already be at great danger.
Speaking of Vermin: The Press
In the face of the administration’s brilliant handling of the crisis, the media, like the Democratic Congress (which tried to insert things in the emergency appropriation like a sidestep of the Hyde Amendment prohibition on federal abortion funding), the press continues its war on the president and good sense. There are many possible examples, but here are two.
Ace of Spades HQ documents how Jim Roberts celebrated the fall in the Dow and then deleted his tweets when it rose again like Lazarus after the presser. “As the Dow zoomed higher and higher, his grave-dancing tweet appeared premature, [s]o he just deleted it. He didn’t explain why. He just zapped it and hoped no one noticed. Well, I did. After deleting his tweet, he shifted tactics: He now acknowledge[s] the markets were rising but claimed this was because Trump was passing out various undeserved goodies to corporations.”
Peter Wehner, like many anti-Trump former Republican presidential courtiers, penned for the Atlantic the latest “Trump is over” screed, claiming that the coronavirus would end his re-election chances.
It obviously didn’t hold up well, lasting for but a few hours, but let me rub his nose into some of his odorous offering. He claims that the virus was spreading while the administration was doing nothing, and in so doing, he establishes only that he was so far out of the administration loop that he had no damn idea how much was being done by so many in the administration and how efficiently and rationally it was handled.
Maybe the crystal balls the NeverTrump has-beens are relying on were made in China.
This article first appeared at the American Thinker. It is published here with permission from the author.