One media report says “the U.S. economy dropped down to a slower gear in January” due to the Omicron variant. But that’s being overly charitable. This is President Joe Biden’s economy. And his party’s. Leaving them in charge of federal policy beyond 2022 will lead to years if not decades of regret.
Surveys of senior business executives provide “the first clear indication of the damage done to the U.S. economy in the first month of the new year,” MarketWatch said Monday. “A ‘flash’ index of service-oriented companies tumbled to an 18-month low of 50.9 from 57.6 in the final month of 2021 … a similar gauge of manufacturers dropped to 55 from 57.7 in December – a 15-month low.”
The article goes on to say “Omicron clearly dented the economy in January,” as “millions” missed work “and the virus disrupted already strained supply chains.” The hardest punches connected on the jaws of “restaurants and other businesses that ‘serve’ customers directly.”
It didn’t have to be this way.
Biden swore he was going to shut down the virus but not the economy. The former was a promise no one could possibly keep. The latter, however, was easily reachable.
But rather than urging a return to pre-pandemic conditions – “to terminate the pandemic state of emergency … end the controls, the closures, the restrictions, the plexiglass, the stickers, the exhortations, the panic-mongering, the distancing announcements, the ubiquitous commercials, the forced masking, the vaccine mandates,” as has been sensibly suggested – Biden tried to achieve the impossible. He demanded mass vaccinations, told the unvaccinated to drop dead, and in general stoked fear of a variant that is clearly more transmissible but not as lethal as its predecessors.
Yes, the administration, having learned the limits of its powers over a virus, and afraid Biden’s broken promise will sink Democrats in the fall elections, is now pivoting to a “let’s learn to live with it” position. But it’s too late. The crash has already occurred and the smoldering wreckage still too hot to touch.
The strident left will of course accuse us of being evil capitalists who place the economy over human health and life. That’s an ignorant position (which is exactly what we expect of the reactionaries who are either part of or aligned with the Democratic Party). Nothing has boosted the health and lifespan of humanity more than a prosperous economy.
We know this in part because even what seem like mild economic setbacks are deadly. The National Bureau of Economic Research tells us that a “typical unemployment shock results in a significant decline in life expectancy and increase in mortality rates for the overall population.”
But there’s been nothing routine about the COVID-19-related shutdown shock. It’s expected to be two to five “times larger than the typical unemployment shock.” The number of additional – and we’ll add “avoidable” – deaths is likely to exceed 800,000 “over the next 15 years.”
Voters have a chance this fall and in 2024 to repair the damage they wrought in 2020 by electing Biden. For the future of our republic, they need to tune out everything the Democrats tell them.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board