Vaccine Mandates: As a presidential candidate, Biden said he wouldn’t mandate vaccines, but his recent actions as president show a clear change of heart. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Vaccine Mandates
While speaking in Wilmington, Del., on Dec. 4, 2020, Joe Biden was asked whether COVID vaccinations should be mandatory. The president-elect said, “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory.” A little more than eight months later, the president had a change of heart, laying out his most forceful pandemic actions and words yet in a speech last week. On Thursday, Biden ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to curb the surging COVID-19 delta variant, Zeke Miller reports for the Associated Press. The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, with a requirement carrying penalties of $14,000 per violation. The employers will also have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated and/or recover from any associated side effects, Stephanie Armour and Sabrina Siddiqui report for the Wall Street Journal. Here’s what both sides are saying:
On The Left
Left-leaning commentators and outlets support Biden’s order, and some think his six-step plan doesn’t go far enough. Another notes how vaccine mandates have been part of America’s history since before it was even a country.
“Biden’s six-step COVID strategy does not go far enough to compel vaccinations” Leana S. Wen, Washington Post: “President Biden’s much-hyped new strategy for fighting COVID-19 is a tepid half-measure that falls short of the dramatic reset the country needs. The six-pronged strategy announced on Thursday can be summarized as ‘more of the same’ — these are good steps in the right direction, but they’re not enough to get the job done. … Biden needs to acknowledge that we have reached the end of the line when it comes to asking individuals to get vaccinated. We’ve tried education, incentives, and appealing to people’s patriotic duty. It’s not working. Now is the time for mandates, with the federal government using the full extent of its authority. … For starters, why didn’t Biden announce that he will mandate vaccinations for plane and train travel? … Similarly, the White House should urge businesses to implement ‘no vaccine, no service’ rules. … In addition … I wish that all children 12 and older would be required, as well. There are mandates for childhood immunizations in every state. The coronavirus vaccine should be no different. … The time for cajoling is over, and it’s up to Biden to set the tone — and make it as difficult as his authority permits for Americans to remain unvaccinated.”
“Vaccination Mandates Are an American Tradition. So Is the Backlash.” Maggie Astor, New York Times: “The roots of US vaccine mandates predate both the US and vaccines. The colonies sought to prevent disease outbreaks by quarantining ships from Europe and sometimes, in the case of smallpox, requiring inoculations: a crude and much riskier predecessor to vaccinations in which doctors rubbed live smallpox virus into broken skin to induce a relatively mild infection that would guard against severe infection later. … In January 1777, George Washington mandated inoculations for the soldiers under his command in the Continental Army … Legally speaking, the Supreme Court resolved the issue of mandatory vaccinations in 1905, ruling 7-2 in Jacobson v. Massachusetts that they were constitutional. … None of it is new, but one thing distinguishes today’s anti-vaccination protesters from those of the past. The opposition was always political. It wasn’t always partisan.”
“Fox News and right-wing media frame Biden as evil ‘tyrant’ after vaccination speech” Oliver Darcy, CNN Business: “It is difficult to overstate the degree to which right-wing commentators are slinging venom at Biden, the White House, and public health officials following the speech. … ‘An Authoritarian.’ … ‘Rotting bag of oatmeal … tyrant.’ … Those are only a handful of the vile attacks directed at President Biden on Fox News Thursday night following his address to the nation announcing sweeping new vaccine mandates. … I know there is a temptation to just ignore these talkers. … But their language — which essentially characterizes Biden and public health officials as evil tyrants — is key to understanding why so many Americans are not protecting themselves with a vaccine. … Huge communities of Americans are being lied to and misinformed by bad-faith media personalities and politicians who seek profit and power. … Bad faith nonsense has saturated right-wing media and the GOP.”
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators seem to overwhelmingly support vaccines. However, they do not support Biden’s order because they think it is a federal power grab that is unconstitutional. They believe it sets a dangerous precedent and is just a calculated way to shift attention away from the president’s failures in Afghanistan.
“Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Is a Big Mistake” Robby Soave, New York Times Opinion: On July 23, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said, “That’s not the role of the federal government.” … “Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the same thing a week later: ‘There will be no nationwide mandate.’ So much for that. … The president’s plan is certainly well-intentioned. The vaccines are the only tried and true strategy for defeating COVID … But forcing vaccines on a minority contingent of unwilling people is a massive error that risks shredding the social fabric of a country already being pulled apart by political tribalism. The president should not — and likely does not — have the power to unilaterally compel millions of private-sector workers to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs: Mr. Biden is presiding over a vast expansion of federal authority, one that Democrats will certainly come to regret the next time a Republican takes power. … The federal vaccine mandate represents a broad expansion of the executive branch’s power. And Mr. Biden will not be the chief executive forever.”
“Joe Biden’s incoherent, fear-mongering COVID vaccine speech” By John Podhoretz, New York Post: ‘What’s happening with the Delta variant is terrible, and Biden spent a lot of the speech importuning the unvaccinated to get the shot. They should. If they don’t, they’re incredibly stupid, and yes, this means you. … But it’s not a crime to be stupid, or to be a foolish parent. People do self-destructive things all the time. … The talk was aimed at a very specific population, and it wasn’t the unvaccinated, toward whom he showed very little save contempt. … He’s going to take actions that are likely unconstitutional — using powers the courts have repeatedly said were beyond the scope of presidential authority to compel private businesses to act as he wishes them to act. And why? Well, to ease the very worries he had just tried to convince all of us are actually unnecessary. Well, it’s one way to try to change the subject from Afghanistan.”
“Biden’s Desperate COVID Overreach” Editorial Board, National Review: “We obviously do not dispute the idea that it would be a good thing if more people were vaccinated, as the shots have proven to be safe and highly effective at nearly eliminating the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. But the issue here is not what outcomes we may prefer, but what authority Biden has as president. … As chief executive, it is one thing for Biden to require vaccination for federal workers, or even for private companies that are hired as federal contractors. But Biden’s proposal goes way beyond that … This rule imposes a significant compliance burden on employers to not only police who is vaccinated, but also to facilitate weekly testing of workers. … After his actions today, we can’t help but be reminded of the CDC’s eviction moratorium, which he extended even after declaring that doing so would be illegal. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court blocked that action, declaring that it ‘strains credulity to believe that this statute grants the CDC the sweeping authority that it asserts.’ We hope that the Supreme Court will be just as incredulous when it comes to Biden’s latest overreach.”
Flag This: Vaccine Mandates
Gallup surveyed more than 3,500 random adults between August 16-22 on a variety of vaccine mandates. Results show that 61% of Americans favor vaccination requirements for air travel, 53% of respondents support vaccine proof for dining out, and 56% of those polled support mandates for their office or work settings. “Americans’ political identity is strongly related to their opinions about vaccine requirements,” Frank Newport writes. 92% of Democrats polled by Gallup support vaccination mandates to board an airplane, in contrast to just 29% of Republicans. Independents were evenly split, with 50% supporting and 50% opposing.
Flag Poll: Vaccine Mandates
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