Budowsky: Biden and Congress must wage total war against COVID-19
With the deadly COVID-19 escalating dangerously and dramatically, with two new variants of the virus that are far more contagious spreading like wildfire, with the number of vaccinations falling far behind the promised schedule, and with the number of infections and deaths destined to continue to skyrocket for the next two to three months, President-elect Joe Biden and Congress should wage total war to defeat the COVID-19 virus once and for all.
Right now America, the United Kingdom and nations around the world are in a deadly race against time. It is urgent to radically escalate the capability to expedite people receiving the vaccine to minimize the ghoulish number of deaths — which some medical authorities believe could reach 500,000 by April — that are now on the horizon unless there are major improvements almost immediately.
Very briefly, the performance of President Trump, who appears more interested in trying to achieve a virtual coup d’etat against the 2020 elections than defeating the COVID-19 virus, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been equally negligent against the virus and obsessed with domestic British politics at the expense of protecting the health of his nation, have been grossly incompetent and disastrous.
Here is how a total war against COVID-19 must be waged.
First, Congress should immediately enact the $2,000 COVID-19 relief payments that should have been enacted during the last Congress. There should be some appropriate cap on incomes and/or net worth for those who receive these payments to help those who need them, and not spend money on those who do not.
It is imperative that policy makers fully understand and address the extreme damage to our national economy that will become even more harsh in the coming weeks and months until the virus is defeated by the vaccine.
In the last Congress, while I vehemently oppose most of what President Trump has done on many issues, he was right to support the $2,000 relief checks but wrong to not fight for it in the last Congress without bogus poison pills that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to insert in a shameful effort to kill the relief checks.
Similarly, in all honesty, I wish president-elect Joe Biden had fought for it vigorously, which unfortunately, he did not do.
Second, Biden should name a forceful leader to drive to success everything needed to expedite the vaccines. Someone such as retired Admiral William McCraven who has the leadership, management and organizational skill to make it happen.
Third, Biden and his designated commander of vaccine distribution, or President Trump if he chooses to take the lead, should immediately organize a national public conference call with all of the nation’s governors to determine exactly what support the governors immediately need to achieve the most vaccinations in the shortest possible time.
Fourth, shortly after this conference call, based on the operational needs of all red and blue state governors, there should be an urgent and aggressive funding bill to meet every need the governors suggest. The federal government should not be a bystander working with states, they should work as partners winning this total war against COVID-19.
Fifth, government should work closely with the private sector, using the Defense Production Act to produce whatever vaccines are needed in the shortest time, and with medical authorities to avoid tinkering with dosage changes that have not been adequately tested in trials.
Sixth, critical attention must be given to children and teachers in schools, to close schools temporarily until the vaccines are widely distributed and the virus contagion is rolled back.
These actions can, should and must be taken immediately in the U.S., Britain and other countries plagued by the deadly virus today.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.