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Governing in the time of Covid-19 is difficult.
“Nothing has been good enough,” President Joe Biden told TBEN’s David Muir. He was talking about a lack of available Covid-19 tests, but he could have talked about anything as the virus raged across the country wave after wave and successive US governments failed.
“I don’t think it’s a failure,” Biden said of the lack of testing, complicating Americans’ plans for safe travel and vacations. Rather, it was a lack of forethought.
“The answer is yes, I wish I had thought of ordering half a million (of tests) two months ago, before Covid got here. “
Now the government will flood the United States with tests, but not until January, after the holidays.
Americans can expect their governments, led by Republicans or Democrats, to be caught off guard by a pandemic.
But as Covid-19 progresses, Washington has returned to its partisan fire and general paralysis.
Public health officials warn of a tsunami of infections from the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Infections could explode in incredible numbers. And even though the variant is less severe – experts say to keep an eye on hospitalizations to gauge this – a crush of infections that can creep around vaccines could still tax the health care system.
As a result, some economists are lowering their outlook for the US economy.
But the two-party system that initially allowed extraordinary actions to save the economy in 2020 has disappeared. The political capital that enabled Democrats to pass more relief measures in March 2021 appears to be running out.
The measures decreed by Congress and the Federal Reserve to respond to the pandemic have ended or are ending.
That Americans want or need more from their government was evident in new health insurance underwriting data facilitated by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which was at record levels after Democrats in Congress had acted earlier to reduce premiums and that some employers discontinued coverage.
Biden will stretch what he can – including an announcement Wednesday that he would push back a moratorium on student loan repayments until May 1. The obligation to wear masks on public transport is expected to be extended until March.
More masking in confined public places complies with Covid-19 good practice. Delaying payments further will help Americans get loans, although it does not erase debt.
More consistent efforts expire. The Child Tax Credit has helped almost all parents, including direct payments to those most in need. This tax credit is running out and it is unlikely to be extended as long as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin opposes it.
Hailed as a test case of Democrats’ goal of ending child poverty, it was not specifically linked to the pandemic, but was adopted as part of the pandemic rescue plan in March.
The irony of Joe Manchin. Moderate West Virginia fears additional government spending will raise inflation and hurt the economy, ruining the country’s chances of emerging from the pandemic.
Ironically, it was the failure of the spending bill and the new wave of Covid-19 that caused economists to downgrade their forecasts for the U.S. economy.
“With Omicron looming and DC in disarray, the risks to economic recovery next year are not without consequence and are increasing,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told CNN’s Matt Egan.
This deterioration would occur despite falling gas prices and the apparent easing of supply chain issues that had slowed the recovery.
2022 vs 2020. When Biden sought to reassure Americans on Tuesday about the expected increase in Covid-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant, he listed three ways the country is better prepared today than it was when the pandemic hit :
- More than 200 million people are fully vaccinated and widely protected against serious illness and death, although many still need booster vaccines.
- Supplies were stored for healthcare workers to use during a wave.
- We know a lot more about the disease and how to treat it.
The US Food and Drug Administration’s approval on Wednesday of a new oral treatment with Pfizer is another step in the right direction. The Biden administration has committed $ 5.3 billion for 10 million pill treatments, which Pfizer says reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when given to high-risk adults in for a few days after their first symptoms. The administration said 250,000 courses of the treatment would be available in January.
This is the good news. The bad news is that Biden left out that a wave of bipartisanship that allowed the government to act at the start of the pandemic has completely subsided.
Return to bipartisanship? Ha. Biden may have been trying to get him back when he sent a few kind words to his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who saw the vaccination effort launched under his leadership.
Equally rare were the kind words Trump gave Biden in return. It is not known if Trump has moved away from his more rabid supporters. He was booed at an event after telling his supporters he had received a recall.
The friendliness between the parties is a blip though. Republicans have united to oppose everything Biden proposes except a massive infrastructure bill to fund, among other things, much-needed repairs to roads and bridges. Even this measure, which Trump has whipped against, received little voice from the GOP in the House, where leaders encouraged their members to oppose it.
The two could face each other again in 2024. Trump is expected to run again, and Biden told Muir he would run “if I’m healthy” and a Trump candidacy “would only increase. ” the returns. perspectives.
The regrets of the Democrats. The Liberal Democrats may now regret voting for this bipartisan infrastructure measure because they predicted it would wipe out their influence to push through more sweeping social changes in the Build Back Better plan. They were right. Rather than bragging about the massive bailout bill they passed in March and the infrastructure spending they enacted, Democrats tend to be depressed about what they seem to have lost.
Universal pre-K, a transformational children’s tax credit to secure parents’ money to keep children out of poverty and initiatives to tackle climate change seemed within reach until they lose the pivotal Manchin vote.
Better rebuilding isn’t the only part of Biden’s agenda that’s in limbo.
Biden’s primary tool for pushing the reluctant minority of Americans to get vaccinated – a requirement for large employers to demand their workers get vaccinated – faces court uncertainty. It’s gone, for now. The Supreme Court will hold a special pleading session on January 7 to consider this requirement.
Three months of Omicron? While the president and US health officials, like his senior Covid-19 adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, have told vaccinated and reinforced Americans to be careful with the mask but continue with their lives, others advise more caution .
In a series of tweets Tuesday night, Bill Gates, the billionaire-turned-global public health advocate, said he was canceling vacation plans and feared the country “is entering the worst part of the pandemic.”
It’s a wave, he says, that could last three months.
“Those few months could be bad, but I still think if we take the right steps the pandemic could be over by 2022,” Gates said.
Hopefully, the right measures don’t involve a lot of congressional action.
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