Biden Says the ‘Pandemic Is Over’—but No End to the Spending

September 22, 2022 Updated: September 22, 2022

Commentary

If the pandemic is over, the spending should stop.

During a “60 Minutes” interview on Sept. 18, President Joe Biden said that the “pandemic is over.” Yet back in mid-July, he extended the COVID-19 public health emergency, along with its spending, until the middle of October, at which point the Department of Health and Human Services expects it will be extended again.

Each time the president extends the public health emergency, he also extends the period of emergency spending, as well as justification for restrictions and measures that ultimately cost taxpayers money while benefiting private companies.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the U.S. government has approved at least $4.8 trillion in new borrowing. For example, the government passed legislation that mandated vaccines and provided billions of dollars of funding to companies producing the vaccines. The government authorized the vaccines for emergency use. And ultimately, the government decides which companies can or cannot make vaccines, thus protecting the favored vaccine-makers from the competition.

Vaccine mandates are still in place for the military, government contractors, and healthcare workers in facilities that receive payments from Medicare and Medicaid. Most public- and private-sector employees in New York are still required to prove vaccination. Medical workers and state employees must be vaccinated in California, while in Connecticut, they must also have a booster. Delaware requires full vaccination for state and healthcare workers, as well as for school employees. Moreover, they must submit to weekly testing. In Washington, D.C., healthcare workers, school employees, government employees, contractors, and interns, must all be vaccinated. Similar rules exist in Democrat-led states across the nation.

vaccine mandate protest
A protester holds a sign and a flag as he participates in a rally against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, in Santa Monica, Calif., on Aug. 29, 2021. (Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images)

Vaccine mandates create a ready market for vaccines. These two facts—that people are coerced to take them and that they are paid for by the government (albeit from future tax revenues)—remove the normal price mechanism that regulates the supply and demand logic of a free market. There is no impetus for the handful of government-protected drug companies to improve their efficiency, augment the quality of their drugs, or lower their prices.

Masks function in a similar way. In January 2021, Biden signed an act requiring federal workers to wear masks. Shortly after, a mask requirement was implemented for domestic and international air travel. Government money was distributed to mask manufacturers, including 3M, Hollingsworth & Vose, Corning, and Lydall.

COVID testing has been yet another opportunity for the government to enrich private companies. Between January and August this year, the White House distributed 600 million free test kits through its website, in addition to those distributed by other methods and test kits purchased by government agencies. Frequent testing was required for most employment and participation in public life. Meanwhile, government money was allocated to testing companies and manufacturers of over-the-counter tests, such as Abbott Rapid Dx North America and iHealth Labs.

Vaccines, masks, test kits, and other pandemic supplies made by private companies were also purchased by the federal government and donated to developing countries. For example, on June 10, 2021, Biden announced that the United States would buy and donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines to 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union. In this case, the government was not only using public money to enrich private companies, but the U.S. taxpayers who will ultimately have to repay this debt did not benefit. Furthermore, many of those taxpayers were not even permitted to work on June 10, 2021, when the government was giving away their future earnings.

Epoch Times Photo
A healthcare worker prepares a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Dec. 9, 2021. (Sumaya Hisham/Reuters)

On May 8, 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the jobless rate had reached the highest point since the Great Depression—14.7 percent. In December 2020, CNBC reported that as many as 60 percent of small businesses were closed.

By spring 2021, the number of business bankruptcies in the United States was 200,000 higher than in 2020. Certain industries were hit harder than others. As of August 2021, 22 percent of gyms nationwide had been forced into permanent closure. In some parts of the United States, as many as one-third of local small businesses were driven out of business. Meanwhile, other workers and companies were being shielded and funded by the government.

The lockdowns were one more government-imposed measure that hurt ordinary people while making the rich richer. Lockdown rules forced small entrepreneurs to close but allowed large box stores and Amazon to capture 100 percent of demand.

In 2021, Amazon’s profits rose 220 percent. Amazon then pushed for Biden’s $15 minimum wage. Advocating for a higher minimum wage served Amazon in two ways. First, it ingratiated Amazon to the ruling party. Second, it ensured competitors could not afford to reenter the market, even after Amazon’s COVID protections expired.

The lockdowns protected big box stores, while the vaccine companies, mask companies, and COVID test companies were funded by the government, allowing them to earn guaranteed profits. And those who refused to use these products, or those who attempted to work or engage in commerce in violation of the rules, were punished by the authorities. By definition, this is state capitalism or fascism. In his 1936 book, “Under the Axe of Fascism,” author Gaetano Salvemini calls fascism a corporate state that controls all economic activity, allowing owners of large corporations to become rich at the expense of the small entrepreneurs and workers.

Until the pandemic is declared officially over, the coercion and spending will not stop. Even now, drugmakers are petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve new booster and COVID-flu-booster combos. It seems the drug companies do not expect the pandemic to officially end any time soon.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Antonio Graceffo, Ph.D., has spent more than 20 years in Asia. He is a graduate of the Shanghai University of Sport and holds a China-MBA from Shanghai Jiaotong University. Graceffo works as an economics professor and China economic analyst, writing for various international media. Some of his books on China include "Beyond the Belt and Road: China’s Global Economic Expansion" and "A Short Course on the Chinese Economy."