Is there still a Covid pandemic emergency or not? Apparently, it depends on your political agenda.
President Biden told CBS’s “60 Minutes” three weeks ago, “We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.” But the Biden Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services this week again extended the official public-health emergency, this time through January.
The HHS statement says “a public health emergency exists and has existed since January 27, 2020, nationwide.” The Wall Street Journal editorial board asks a pertinent question, “Not to get all philosophical, but how can something be an emergency if it has already ended?”
This is not the only example of Biden’s waffling on the issue of a Covid pandemic emergency. When he decided to forgive student loans of up to $20,000 per person, the White House said this would “address the financial harms of the pandemic.” But the government had already halted student loan payments since 2020, holding borrowers harmless. A month before he declared the pandemic “over,” Biden extended that student loan pause through December 31.
Then there’s the crisis at the southern border. The pandemic apparently ended there in April, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention terminated President Trump’s policy of expelling migrants using Title 42 health powers. The CDC said this is “no longer necessary.” The agency cited “the development and widespread deployment of Covid-19 tests, vaccines, and therapeutics.”
WSJ says, “A judge actually held that the Biden Administration couldn’t stop Title 42 enforcement, at least for now. But it’s another example of Biden’s choose-your-own-pandemic policy. Whether the crisis is over varies by agency and depends on what the White House is trying to accomplish. The HHS extension this week will freeze state Medicaid rolls and prevent ineligible recipients from being removed.”
I wrote about the effects of the HHS extension of the emergency in previous posts (Is the Pandemic Over?, Prolonging the Pandemic, ObamaCare Expanded Subsidies Live On). This extension by HHS will again broaden eligibility for Medicaid enrollment by extending waived financial ceilings that should have removed millions from the Medicaid rolls. It will also extend ObamaCare expanded subsidies that allow millions more to receive government discounts on their health insurance.
This extension of the emergency will also put certain work requirements for food stamps on hold. But as everyone knows, nearly every business in America currently has a sign in the window that says “We’re Hiring!” Businesses need help, but the government keeps giving people free money, so what’s the incentive to work? Unemployment is 1.9% in Minnesota, 2% in New Hampshire, and 2.5% in Missouri – but only because the labor participation rate keeps falling. Nobody wants to work and who can blame them. The only reason to work now is self-esteem – a commodity in rare supply in our country today.
WSJ concludes by saying, “Maybe Mr. Biden hopes to keep the emergency going until the end of the next recession.” The reason has a lot to do with the coming mid-term elections. If you can’t earn votes, maybe you can buy them.