September 10, 2021

Federal Vaccine Mandate

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“President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans — private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors — in an all-out effort to curb the surging COVID-19 delta variant…

“The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.” AP News

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From the Left

The left supports the vaccine mandate, arguing that it is necessary to protect public health.

“If you’re going to have to put up with the political opposition calling you the Hitler of vaccines regardless, President Joe Biden appears to have reasoned, you might as well also get the benefit of curtailing the pandemic by putting vaccine requirements in place… The public health rationale for these requirements is strong: Only 64 percent of American adults are fully vaccinated, which has manifestly not been enough to stop COVID-19 from spreading…

“Biden may also have concluded, like more and more state-level Democrats, that the delta variant has made the U.S. public as a whole less interested in tolerating the danger presented by unvaccinated individuals—and that a crucial portion of that public blames Democrats for delta, despite the party’s pro-vaccine position, simply because it’s in power at the national level. (A Gallup poll published this week found 56 percent support for workplace vaccine requirements, although it asked about requirements imposed by private businesses rather than the government.)”
Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate

“[In 1904] when [Henning Jacobson’s] politically charged legal challenge to the $5 fine for failing to get vaccinated [against smallpox] made its way to the Supreme Court, the justices had a surprise for Rev. Jacobson. One man’s liberty, they declared in a 7-2 ruling handed down the following February, cannot deprive his neighbors of their own liberty — in this case by allowing the spread of disease. Jacobson, they ruled, must abide by the order of the Cambridge board of health or pay the penalty…

“The Jacobson holding suggests that other people, from co-workers to classmates to neighbors, have a corresponding liberty interest in being free from infectious disease. Like those who inhale passive smoke, they, too, are affected by a decision that others deem a matter of personal choice. And the court’s ruling makes clear that a community in danger has every right to protect itself.”
Peter S. Canellos and Joel Lau, Politico

“[In 2014] someone at Disneyland had set off a measles outbreak that infected more than 100 people, mostly unvaccinated, in the state — as well as in six other states, Canada and Mexico. The incident galvanized [California] legislators and led to a series of laws aimed at curtailing the religious and philosophical exemptions that allowed parents to avoid getting their kids vaccinated before sending them to school…

“Making the mandate actually work has turned out to be a game of whack-a-mole, with legislators passing laws that specify which medical issues count as vaccine exemptions and establishing a surveillance system that approves exemptions and flags doctors for investigation if they’re handing out a lot of get-out-of-vaccine-free cards…

“As the laws changed, vaccination rates among California kindergarteners did go up. But ideological values, deeply personal fears and (increasingly) political polarization all mean that a vaccine mandate isn’t just a switch you flip on and walk away from.”
Maggie Koerth, FiveThirtyEight

The federal government could require the shots for anyone who wants to board an airplane in the United States. Roughly half of all Americans take a flight in a normal year, and a mandate is one of the few policies that would compel even people who are extremely hostile to the vaccine to get it anyway. Instead, Biden is just going to double the toothless fine for passengers who refuse to wear a mask…

“More rapid tests to help keep schools open is great. But the president provided no update on the timeline to vaccinate children under the age of 12… That Biden felt the need to give this speech is evidence his team finally understands the magnitude of the problem. But the details suggest they still don't understand how to correct it.”
David Faris, The Week

From the Right

The right is critical of the vaccine mandate, arguing that it exceeds the federal government’s authority.

The right is critical of the vaccine mandate, arguing that it exceeds the federal government’s authority.

“[Biden] told the American people without qualification that fully vaccinated people are at incredibly low risk: ‘Only 1 out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized for COVID per day.’ Then he promised to shield them against the evil people who are threatening their very lives: ‘We’re going to protect the vaccinated from unvaccinated coworkers.’ But Joe, you just said the vaccinated were already protected!…  

“The danger in what Biden himself called an ‘epidemic of the unvaccinated’ is to the unvaccinated. That is what all the data show. Ninety-nine percent of the hospitalizations and more than 99 percent of the deaths from the Delta variant are among the unvaccinated…

“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. Last year, when people did self-destructive things in relation to COVID, it was genuinely threatening to others because there was no vaccine. Now there is, and it works, and it saves you.”
John Podhoretz, New York Post

“Currently, vaccination mandates that do exist (such as the MMR shot) are requirements imposed by states or individual school districts. There is not anything akin to a sweeping vaccine mandate for private workers at the federal level. This rule imposes a significant compliance burden on employers to not only police who is vaccinated, but also to facilitate weekly testing of workers…

“The rule will be expedited to avoid the comment period that typically allows those who would be affected by a given order to weigh in. While OSHA has authority to set certain health and safety standards in the workplace, it would be stretching its authority to claim that it can be used as a means to facilitate broader public-health goals…

“Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court blocked [the eviction moratorium], 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.”
The Editors, National Review

It fits with the presidential approach to policymaking over the last decade in which the executive grabs power brazenly and simply hopes that the Court will land on his side. Obama did it with DACA, Trump did it with his emergency wall-building measure, Biden’s already done it with the eviction moratorium. Now he’s going to try to impose a de facto vaccine mandate on 80 million people by slapping their employers with steep fines if an employee isn’t either vaccinated or being tested regularly.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“There is a reason companies such as Delta, Southwest, and American Airlines, and hospital systems across the country, are not mandating the vaccine despite external pressure to do so: They cannot afford to lose employees, but they reasonably fear they will lose some if they roll out a vaccine mandate…

“If a smaller employer right on the edge of 100-plus employees believes a vaccine mandate would cost him a significant number of employees, it is plausible that such a business might reduce its staff size by a few positions to avoid the mandate…

“This is exactly what happened when Obamacare was implemented — who’s to say it wouldn’t happen again? In short, Biden is proposing a rule that would have serious economic consequences. Businesses are already having a hard time hiring employees, and others are struggling to hold on to the ones they have. Biden’s vaccine mandate will make this worse.”
Kaylee McGhee White, Washington Examiner

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