Biden’s Vaccine Mandate
October 29, 2021
What’s Left: Biden’s Vaccine Mandate is Necessary
In September, President Biden asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to write rules that would mandate companies with over 100 employees to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, or test the unvaccinated once a week. This mandate will cover close to two-thirds of the U.S. workforce, according to CNN. OSHA has completed Biden’s proposal and the only thing preventing the implementation of the mandate is the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) review.
As expected, the mandate has already been subject to harsh criticisms and even preemptive measures to stop its implementation in certain republican states. The Texas Tribune reported that Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, for example, has already issued an executive order stating that no organization or company in the state can force its employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Southwest and American Airlines, both based in Texas, have stated that they will continue to comply with Biden’s federal vaccination requirements, which are far stricter than the mandate Biden is proposing for businesses, according to the Washington Post. These challenges do not stop in Texas. Almost every republican state attorney general has signed a letter to President Biden, promising to use every avenue available to stop the mandate from being enforced.
These challenges are bound to encounter some issues. According to the Washington Post, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh has the legal power to issue an emergency temporary standard if they determine workers face danger from harmful agents. This standard is then supposed to be replaced by a permanent law in six months. The letter sent to Biden from republican attorney generals also claimed that employees are not in danger of COVID-19 because of the high vaccination rate of the general population and that COVID-19 is not only an issue for workers, but for the entire population, and therefore can’t be mandated by the OSHA.
However, this does not take into account the science behind herd immunity. According to the Mayo Clinic’s vaccination tracker, as of Oct. 21, over 57 percent of the American population is fully vaccinated. While this is an impressive and promising number, it is still far below a percentage in which our population would be considered at low risk for contracting the disease. In fact, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, herd immunity for COVID-19 looks very different from herd immunity for diseases like measles. It is possible to get COVID-19 after being vaccinated or having had the disease before, which means that this disease requires an even higher vaccination rate to reach herd immunity. Despite a majority of Americans having received the vaccine, we are nowhere near the point we need to reach to consider ourselves “herd immune.”
An unvaccinated worker who has COVID-19 is a danger to other employees, so mandating vaccinations protects all workers from each other. Though OSHA’s power has been overturned in court before, never in recent history has our country faced a health crisis this severe. The pandemic certainly causes danger to Americans in the workplace.
The vaccine mandate is important, lifesaving and will fast-track the U.S. to long-hoped-for normality. The mandate would provide apparently much-needed reassurance that the vaccine is safe and beneficial to the entire country, not just the singular person who is getting vaccinated. Vaccination, and the COVID-19 pandemic as a whole, have been over-politicized since the beginning. This has led to large growth in the already present anti-vax movement in the U.S. According to the CDC, more than 90 percent of children 24 months and younger are vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella, yet widespread acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is far from our reality. Americans around the country who are anti-vax see the pandemic and the world’s desperate need for a vaccinated population as an opportunity to spread misinformation about vaccines and recruit new members to their movement.
Congressional Republicans have done little to quell the rise in anti-vaccine misinformation coming from from the far-right. According to a recent poll published by NPR, 19 percent of Americans say they will not receive the vaccine, while that same statistic is 37 percent among Republicans and 5 percent among Democrats. Without pushback from republican leaders on false claims, vaccines have become a partisan issue, igniting a fear within the party’s base. U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina said, “Think about what those mechanisms could be used for. They could then go door-to-door to take your guns. They could go door-to-door to take your bibles,” during this year’s CPAC conference about the Biden administration’s plan for door-to-door COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Hill.
Ideally, every American should have the choice of whether or not to get vaccinated. However, when so many choose to ignore the health and safety of our country’s children and the immunocompromised, a vaccine mandate becomes not only justified, but necessary. The health of our family, friends, neighbors and community members must be a top priority, and we must work to fight this spread of misinformation that puts us all in danger.
Being Right: Biden’s Dubiously Justified Mandate and its Ramifications
On Thursday, Sept. 9, President Joe Biden unveiled perhaps his most sweeping COVID-19 policy yet: A vaccine mandate for almost as many as 100 million working Americans, according to CNN. Under the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA), this policy will require a broad list of workers to take the jab or submit to routine testing. This includes employees of private firms with over a hundred people, as well as all healthcare workers, federal employees and contractors.
President Biden scornfully remarked on the unwillingness of many Americans to take the shot. According to whitehouse.gov, Biden remarked, “We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”
If President Biden truly wishes to understand what has made so many millions of Americans wary of vaccination, perhaps it would do him some good to look inwards and address the contradictory messaging of his administration. During the 2020 election cycle, he implored the American people to be wary of the news of imminent vaccines announced by President Trump. “I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump, and at this moment, the American people can’t either,” he stated on Sept. 16, 2020, according to NPR News. This and many other like-minded sentiments from Biden and federal level Democrats led to the “Trump vaccine” — as dubbed by Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette — to be one of the most unforgivingly fear-mongered issues of the election cycle.
In the present day, the Biden administration has taken a perfect 180° and made the jab into a moral obligation, punitively expanding restrictions and concentrating anger and blame for it against those who dare express the same skepticisms they themselves popularized. This confusion is perhaps only worsened by the perpetually shifting guidelines of NIH director Anthony Fauci, who has jumped from one position to the next on the efficacy of both masks and the vaccines, goalposts for herd immunity, the lab-leak theory regarding the origins of COVID-19, and timetables for the progression of the fight against Covid and America’s eventual return to normalcy.
The business mandate is merely the latest in a long line of policies Biden decided would be more convenient to implement instead of making even the slightest modicum of improvement to his COVID-19 messaging. But now we have to question whether this mandate is within his power, and what its consequences are.
Throughout his Covid response, President Biden has continuously manipulated bureaucracies lower on the executive branch’s totem poll to avoid the legislative process. By taking niche policies and stretching them beyond even their most reasonable interpretations, he has made these bodies nigh-omnipotent. A notable example of this was his usage of a passage in Section 361 of the Public Health Services Act to empower the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to implement a nationwide eviction moratorium, according to SupremeCourt.gov. The passage was originally written to allow the CDC greater authority on issues far removed such as pest extermination and fumigation. In the present case, according to the FederalRegister.gov, President Biden is using the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) powers of OSHA to allow them to immediately draft public health policy, despite neither the ETS powers nor even OSHA themselves having ever been used to pass such major requirements as the vaccine mandate.
Through this strategy, President Biden has found marginally legal means to turn unelected bureaucracies into legislative proxies for the White House, something that has gotten him into trouble with the courts on occasion. In the prior example of the eviction moratorium, the Supreme Court struck the policy down in a scathing eight-page opinion piece.
As we wait for this issue to be settled in court, its ramifications are being felt nationwide. “As a practical matter, this policy may result in exacerbating the severe workforce shortage problems that currently exists,” warned American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack. For months now, the United States has suffered from a severe joblessness crisis. Job growth has routinely failed to meet the predictions of the economic community, often by staggering margins. In September, according to CNBC, job growth amounted to only 194,000 compared to the Dow Jones forecast of 500,000. According to a report by the Department of Labor, a whopping 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs during the month of August, up from 4 million in July and the highest figure on record since December 2000. The introduction of this new demand by the federal government threatens to further stunt what should have been a remarkable post-Covid boom in the job market.
A rapid outflow of non-compliant workers could also exacerbate the current global supply chain crisis. With the looming holiday season, shipping and other trading industries, still hamstrung by Covid mitigation strategies, have struggled to meet rising demand. This has created shortages in a wide list of goods ranging from food to electrical components, to various raw materials and more. The mandate’s fast-approaching Dec. 8 deadline for federal contractors has threatened to further reduce U.S. distributors’ ability to keep up with spiking demand.
“If tens or hundreds of thousands of employees are terminated just two weeks before Christmas … the result could be nothing short of catastrophic for the newly unemployed and their families and for the U.S. economy,” warned Eric Hoplin, the President and CEO of the National Association of Wholesale Distributors (NAW). Stephen Alterman, president of the Cargo Airline Association (CAA), expressed similar fears. “We have significant concerns with the employer mandates announced on Sept. 9, 2021, and the ability of industry members to implement the required employee vaccinations by Dec. 8, 2021.” The CAA has implored the White House to push the deadline off to “the first half of 2022.”
Unfortunately, American distributors’ pleas have fallen on deaf ears as the Biden Administration addresses this growing crisis with little apparent urgency. White House Speaker Jen Psaki jokingly called the supply-chain crisis “the tragedy of the treadmill undelivered,” according to the Washington Times. Meanwhile, the United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has been notably absent on paternity leave, despite shipping port bottlenecks and truck driver shortages persisting across the country.
At a certain point, the dubious license with which the current administration exerts the sweeping authority that it does and their blatant disregard for the repercussions of their actions should severely worry the American people.