The coronavirus: What would Joe Biden do?

By Larry Elder

Many Democrats and much of the media claim that President Donald Trump has mishandled and continues to mishandle the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But a Johns Hopkins study found the United States is better prepared for a pandemic than any other country. Released in October 2019, the Global Health Security Index examined 195 countries on their preparedness and ability to handle an epidemic or pandemic. It found: “No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.”

No, Trump did not cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among those pushing this untruth is former Vice President Joe Biden, who said, “They’ve cut the funding for the CDC.” Trump proposed a CDC cut, but Congress disagreed. wrote: “It’s misleading at best to claim Trump ‘slashed funding,’ when his proposals haven’t taken effect. For instance, Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal would have reduced CDC funding by $750.6 million, compared with what was enacted for fiscal 2019. … But Congress passed, and Trump signed, a budget that increased CDC funding by $420 million.”

Nor is it true that Trump “fired” the head of a pandemic response team the president allegedly dissolved. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg claimed: “And one of the great problems today, you read about the virus, what’s really happening here is the president fired the pandemic specialist in this country two years ago. So there’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing.”

Rear Adm. R. Timothy Ziemer, to whom Bloomberg referred, was the senior director of the National Security Council’s Office of Global Health Security and Biodefense. About Ziemer, said: “Just because Ziemer’s position was discontinued does not mean everyone who was part of the team was fired or that all of the functions of the directorate ceased. According to reporting by the Atlantic and the Washington Post, some team members were shifted to other groups, and others took over some of Ziemer’s duties. An NSC spokesman at the time said that the administration ‘remains committed to global health, global health security and biodefense, and will continue to address these issues with the same resolve under the new structure.'” Ziemer is now senior deputy assistant administrator at the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Nor did Trump refer to the coronavirus as a “hoax,” as claimed by New York Times reporter David Leonhardt; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown; and Biden, among numerous Democrats and members of the media. In an edited political ad, Biden made the assertion.

But The Washington Post Fact Checker gave the Trump-called-the-coronavirus-a-hoax story four Pinocchios, as bad as score as the Post gives: “At the 10-second mark, the camera shows a tight shot of the president saying ‘coronavirus’ and then cuts to a wide shot where he says, ‘this is their new hoax.’ Both clips are from Trump’s Feb. 28 campaign rally in North Charleston, S.C., but he never said ‘coronavirus, this is their new hoax.’ Rather, Biden’s ad clipped a large part of Trump’s speech to make it seem as though he had.”

What would Biden do that Trump isn’t already doing? Biden recently tweeted: “It’s hard to believe this has to be said, but if I’m elected president, I will always lead the way with science. I will listen to the experts and heed their advice. I will do the opposite of what we’re seeing Donald Trump do every day.” To that end, Biden has been giving interviews and holding coronavirus briefings broadcast from his home studio in Wilmington, Delaware.

Some of Biden’s insights:

“I was literally on the phone at least three to four hours a day with my team talking about the detail implementation. How do we get the money? Where do we do? Who do we go to? Where do we – who do we ask for, etc.?”

About Trump’s plea that we remain in our homes to the extent practical, Biden said: “Look, none of us want to be cooped up in our homes just as the weather is turning nice. … It’s unfair to all of us. And it’s unnecessary for all of us. But it’s necessary, in fact. It’s necessary for all of us to have to deal with it.”

About Trump’s plan, since abandoned, to restart the economy by Easter, Biden said, “We have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse no matter what. No matter what.”

Trump is registering the best approval ratings of his presidency. A recent Gallup poll showed Trump’s job approval ratings at 49%. At this time in his first term, Obama’s Gallup approval ratings were at 46%. For the Trump haters who hoped that Trump’s response to the pandemic would sink Trump’s reelection prospects, it’s not going according to plan.

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