Coronavirus vs. government overreach: Which is worse?

President Biden is wagering heavily on executive power, which, if he fails, will have long-term implications for the president’s emergency authorities. In September, he instructed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop emergency guidelines mandating businesses with 100 or more employees to require the COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing. But Biden didn’t stop there; he expanded the reach of government vaccine requirements when he issued an executive order requiring COVID-19 immunization for all federal employees, thereby eliminating the choice of frequent testing for individuals who may not want to be vaccinated.

It is indeed one thing for the government to promote vaccines while also giving people the option of testing daily or weekly, but removing that option and forcing people to get vaccinated if they have concerns about the vaccines is a step too far. This is why the administration now faces two major lawsuits over the decisions.

It is critical to follow these cases, because they will have major implications on our country’s health care providers: One is OSHA’s vaccine-and-testing rule, and the other is the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ requirement that, with the exception of medical or religious exemptions, all people working in health care facilities that receive federal funding (such as Medicare and Medicaid) be fully vaccinated or the funding will be withheld. It’s a technique intended to intimidate and enforce vaccination by threatening to cut off federal funding for a critical program that can help health care facilities run more efficiently.

It is likely that these poorly thought-out restrictions will simply compound the bad health consequences the pandemic has had on the general public. Aside from any direct harm caused by the virus, our government’s inability to make rational decisions has caused many people to suffer from depression, and some have avoided going to hospitals, where they might have been treated for illnesses that could have severe consequences, even death. To make matters worse, the government is attempting to do even more harm by cutting off critical funding to health care facilities that refuse to enforce vaccine requirements. Given breakthrough cases involving some who received vaccines, might not other requirements, such as testing and mask-wearing, be equally as effective in combating the spread of COVID-19?

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to block state-level vaccine mandates in New York and New Mexico, so it’s anyone’s guess where and how the court will rule in these two important cases. What’s at stake is whether the federal government has the legal authority to impose mandates and withhold needed federal funding that could harm recipients if health care facilities do not implement vaccine mandates.

The decision must be made that the authority of the federal government, particularly that of the executive branch, is subject to restrictions and limitations. If President Biden is allowed to proceed with his plan, what is to prevent future presidents from using this action as a precedent to mandate and enforce other measures that may influence a person’s health?

The American people — not the president or unelected bureaucrats at some government agency — have the right to decide what is in our best medical interest, in consultation with our own health care professionals. No government mandate diminishes the importance of a personal choice, and bureaucrats acting as mommy and daddy and declaring that something is best for us does not make their reasoning justifiable or right. I appreciate a person’s choice to be vaccinated, and I have even promoted it among patients with comorbidities, but it should be an option for people, not a requirement that forces them to choose between their livelihoods and their freedoms.

We are at a point in history where we must decide how much the federal government should be involved in every part of our personal life. This isn’t a political party issue; it’s a question of liberty and government overreach and restrictions. When the federal government seeks to protect Americans from something, the end rarely justifies the means, and we are left reflecting on a reduction of the freedoms we once had.

For some Americans, the most essential thing isn’t freedom at all, but the appearance of it, which is exactly what we will have if the Biden administration is allowed to continue on this path. Yes, we must keep people safe and urge those with pre-existing health issues to do everything they can to be safe during the pandemic — and we can do this while allowing people to choose what is best for them in consultation with their doctors. 

The core of liberty is unrestricted personal choice. We must choose liberty every time, even when we don’t think force is necessary for some form of public benefit. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it seldom closes.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”