- - Tuesday, September 14, 2021

On Sept. 9, President Biden declared, “the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.”

So, Mr. Biden believes the federal government, under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has the purview to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations.

Interestingly, a few months ago, Mr. Biden believed the federal government did not have the authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. He also explicitly said he would not issue a federal vaccine mandate.

For example, in December 2020, Mr. Biden said, “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory.”

On July 23, White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated Mr. Biden’s position when she said implementing a vaccine mandate “is not the role of the federal government.”

One week later, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Mr. Biden’s director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unequivocally stated, “To clarify: There will be no nationwide mandate. … There will be no federal mandate.”

Yet, that was then. This is now.

Although the Biden administration is attempting to downplay its previous position on vaccine mandates, it should be held to account for its blatant about-face on the issue.

Why? Because the decision to arbitrarily enforce a nationwide vaccine mandate, under an OSHA “emergency rule,” has everything to do with politics and little, if anything, to do with the science.

First, the timing of the decision matters. Mr. Biden announced his federal vaccine mandate on Sept. 9, just two days before Americans marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

It is well within the realm of possibility that Mr. Biden chose to make his vaccine proclamation to distract the American public from the fiasco that is taking place in Afghanistan as a result of his administration’s disastrous withdrawal.

Second, Mr. Biden’s poll numbers are plunging. Perhaps the vaccine mandate proclamation was an attempt by Mr. Biden to please his left-wing base, who ardently support vaccine mandates.

Third, the vaccine mandate is a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t consider the unique health circumstances of more than 80 million Americans employed in private businesses that fall under Biden’s edict.

For instance, according to the CDC, as of Sept. 10, 2021, 40,523,954 Americans have contracted COVID-19. That means nearly 40 million Americans have a natural immunity to COVID-19. That also means that these 40 million Americans do not need to be vaccinated.

Several studies show that natural immunity is actually superior to vaccination in preventing reinfection.

Fourth, the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate does not apply to United States Postal Service (USPS) employees.

According to Dave Partenheimer, a USPS spokesman, “The COVID-19 vaccination requirements included in the White House executive order issued on September 9, 2021, for federal employees do not apply to the Postal Service.”

The USPS exemption is as political as it gets.

USPS employs more than 640,000 Americans, which obviously exceeds the 100-employee threshold. Moreover, USPS employees, especially mail carriers, interact with millions of Americans throughout the country every day. They are walking vectors of COVID-19 transmission.

However, for some reason, which has absolutely nothing to do with science, USPS workers are not included in Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate.

Maybe Mr. Biden and the Democrats want to stay on good terms with USPS employees, seeing as how they now play a pivotal role in elections due to the left’s penchant for mass mail-in voting under the guise of the perpetual pandemic.

Yet, that is the point. The COVID-19 pandemic, in many ways, has been a boon to the left. It has allowed leftist governors to become autocrats. It has allowed the federal government to print and spend trillions of dollars while also substantially increasing its size and scope in the process.

It has also, most disturbingly, changed the societal framework regarding government authority, in general. Unfortunately, this shift has benefited the government and the bureaucracy, as more and more Americans allow politicians and bureaucrats to usurp unprecedented power and control over their daily lives.

A few decades ago, I believed most Americans would have vehemently rejected the restrictions and rules that have been in place throughout the pandemic.

Sadly, I wonder if the “Don’t tread on me” spirit that built this country is long gone. If that is the case, vaccine mandates will pale in comparison to what could be coming down the road.

• Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is a senior editor at The Heartland Institute.

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