Democrats think President Donald Trump is badly bungling the country’s response to the coronavirus. They also wish the government had more power over the health care system. Anyone else see the disconnect?
Joe Biden tweeted that Trump “is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren slammed the president for putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the government’s response team. “I can’t think of a worse person to put in charge of dealing with coronavirus,” she tweeted.
Sen. Bernie Sanders piled on, tweeting that “the inadequate and incompetent response we have seen from Donald Trump and his administration” worried him.
It wasn’t just politicians. A CNN analysis slammed Trump for having too many white men on his coronavirus task force. (Disclosure: I have written recently a couple of pieces for CNN Opinion.) A contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine criticized Pence for praying during a meeting on the virus. Last week, many mainstream media outlets dishonestly reported that Trump told his supporters the virus was a hoax.
On the merits, these criticisms are dubious. In late January, the Trump administration declared coronavirus a public health emergency. It stopped foreign nationals who had visited China recently from entering the country. It set up quarantines for some returning U.S. citizens. Democrats didn’t melt down when then-President Barack Obama appointed Ron Klain, a political operative and lobbyist, to lead his Ebola Task Force. It’d be an understatement to note that it’s ridiculous to criticize the ethnic and gender makeup of a task force set up to stop a deadly contagion.
This isn’t to say the response from Trump or the government has been perfect. Far from it. The testing kits sent out by the CDC had problems. Officials are worried that the lab which created these test kits was “contaminated” in some way. The virus seems to have been spreading undetected in Washington state for several weeks. In Texas, the CDC released a patient from quarantine who later tested positive for the virus.
As president, Trump bears ultimate responsibility, but he’s not in a lab creating testing kits. Those are career government employees. Large bureaucracies aren’t nimble or perfect, especially when dealing with the uncertainty surrounding a global pandemic.
If you think Trump represents a danger to public health, the very last thing you should want is for him to have more power over medical care. The leading Democrat presidential candidates, however, each favor government-run health care. Sanders and Warren advocate for the direct route with their “Medicare for All” scheme. Biden wants to put the country on that path by creating a public option. Allowing people to buy subsidized “insurance” would undercut private insurance plans, inevitably leading to a government takeover.
If you don’t trust Trump to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, you shouldn’t favor a system that gives a future president power over your health care.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 10 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.