Now he tells us: There’s no federal solution to COVID, says Biden

A few days ago the Washington Free Beacon honored his campaign pledge to “shut down the virus” as its Lie of the Year for 2021.

After this clip, they might make it the Lie of the Decade.

It takes a lot to turn a Democrat into a federalist but a raging pandemic that’s defied all attempts by a Democratic-controlled federal government to bring it to heel might do it.

Rewind to this past August, when Biden was calling for private employers to impose vaccine mandates and meeting resistance from Republican governors like Ron DeSantis. His message at the time to red states: Get out of the way.

President Biden on Tuesday denounced Republican officials who have blocked efforts to mandate vaccines, as he encouraged cities and states to require that individuals show proof of vaccination to visit restaurants and other public spaces…

“I say to these governors: Please help. But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way,” Biden said. “The people are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”

A month later, irked by DeSantis and other GOP executives preventing local governments from imposing mask mandates, he doubled down. Get out of the way, he warned them, or I’ll use my executive power to push you out of the way.

“Local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them, and even threatens their salaries or their jobs,” said President Biden during a nationally televised speech from the White House. “Talk about bullying in schools.”

“If they’ll not help, if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my powers as president to get them out of the way,” President Biden added.

Three months later, with daily case counts about to blast through the previous record, COVID is a problem only the states can solve.

Is that what Biden meant to imply? Nah. Having watched the full exchange below with Asa Hutchinson, I think he was making a more banal point. The Right Scoop points out that Hutchinson lobbied him to make sure that the federal government doesn’t inadvertently interfere with state efforts to mitigate the spread, such as by accidentally disrupting supply chains that the states rely on while the feds are scrambling to rush out 500 million rapid tests. Watch a minute or so here.

All he’s doing, as I understand him, is acknowledging that state and local health-care systems ultimately have the burden of caring for COVID patients. The feds don’t, by and large. (The VA is a notable exception.) He was making a rhetorical concession in response to Hutchinson’s plea: Of course we’ll keep state priorities in mind, Biden’s saying, since the states are the ones with the awesome responsibility of actually treating the sick. It’s less “the buck stops there” than “all levels of government need to coordinate with each other to optimize outcomes for Americans.” In context, his “get out of the way” message to red-state governors this past summer doesn’t contradict that. It was a complaint that figures like DeSantis weren’t coordinating with the feds’ tactics to slow the spread.

If you want to watch Biden sincerely try to dodge blame for a massive COVID failure, this quote from today’s photo op is juicier.

That’s the second time this week that he’s told that particular lie, that his team didn’t anticipate that rapid tests might be needed this winter. Infectious disease experts explicitly warned the White House as recently as October that the country would need them, and in fact had warned them repeatedly earlier this year. Biden couldn’t have known that a hyper-transmissible new variant would descend on America two weeks before Christmas but he had every reason to suspect that we’d be hit by a nasty winter wave of COVID one way or another. Why wasn’t his team prepared?

And why wasn’t it his strategy to go as hard as possible at containing the virus before Omicron emerged? The idea that the White House didn’t “go harder” until a gigantic outbreak was in motion is antithetical to Biden’s campaign promise about shutting down the virus. If you get elected on a pledge to end the pandemic, you “go hard” 24/7 until it’s over.

Via Noam Blum, I’ll leave you with this oldie but goodie complaining about a president who didn’t do everything in his power as head of the executive branch to stop the spread. How about it, Joe?

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