Issues & Insights

How Reagan Predicted The Left’s COVID Fixation

“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism in a people has been by way of medicine.” Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan made those remarks back in 1961. Sixty years later, the response to COVID-19 was proof positive that he had it exactly right.

Rather than focus on policies that would protect the most vulnerable from COVID, the left seized on public fear of the disease to impose draconian controls nationwide. Previously unthinkable lockdowns became the norm. Mandates that people wear masks and get experimental vaccines became routine. The size of the federal government exploded — going from 21% of GDP in 2019 to 30% in the two years following the outbreak.

Even now, more than three years after COVID hit these shores and long after it has mutated into little more than a severe cold, the Biden administration refuses to lift its “emergency” declaration.

“Extending the emergency is aimed at keeping as many people as possible dependent on Medicaid — the federal-state health program that covers more than one in four Americans — even though large and growing numbers of beneficiaries are ineligible,” noted Joel Zinberg, director of the Paragon Health Institute’s Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative.

Medicaid enrollment has exploded by 30% since the pandemic started, with 19 million more now getting socialized medicine. With the emergency still in place, Zinberg notes, “states can no longer assess and remove ineligible enrollees.”

Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Recovery Act included a sweeping $40 billion expansion of Obamacare.

A recent study published by our friends at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity found that in almost half the states in the country, enhanced unemployment benefits with expanded Obamacare subsidies add up to the median wage or more. In 14 states, just these two government programs are equal to $80,000 in wages and benefits. In Washington, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, they add up to more than $100,000 in earned income.

The Obamacare expansion was advertised as a “temporary” program to help those affected by COVID. But it remains in place until 2025 and will no doubt be extended between now and then.

Try to imagine all this being done without COVID.

The left isn’t interested in using COVID just to increase dependency on government, but as a cover to impose Marxist-style collectivism on Americans.

Does that sound like ridiculous scaremongering? We might have thought so until we read a glowing profile in the New Yorker of an organization of public health experts, scientists, health care workers, and educators called the People’s CDC.

The group says it got its start in the wake of the Centers for Disease Control’s conflicting and often unscientific COVID recommendations, and that its mission is simply to “provide accurate information regarding the pandemic with science not convenience as our basis.”

But its name should be a clue to its more fundamental goal, something its members don’t even try to hide. As the New Yorker reports:

  • The People’s CDC believes the CDC’s data and guidelines have been “distorted by powerful forces with vested interests in keeping people at work and keeping anxieties about the pandemic down.”
  • The group “takes issue with the way that the CDC emphasizes individual choices over collective action.”
  • One of its members claims that “a lot of anti-mask sentiment is deeply embedded in white supremacy.”
  • Another says that our “political class is now in the business of helping its financial supporters cash out, turning capital into money.”
  • Still another says “We have comrades that are within the CDC who are saying to us, ‘Go ahead with your bad selves.’ “

Even the New Yorker writer couldn’t help but notice the Marxist overtones in all this.

All the talk about empire-building and capital accumulation — a key component of Marxist economic theory — made me wonder whether ‘the people’ in the People’s CDC are those people. When I asked (Rob) Wallace this on Zoom, he gruffly denied that the members are all communists. ‘There’s certainly an edge of Red-baiting on your part,’ he said.

But this is no fringe group.

It gets “support from respected institutions in the public-health world,” the New Yorker reports. “It has also received blue-chip funding from organizations such as the Kresge Foundation … and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the most influential health-focused philanthropies in America.”

What’s more, “The organization is part of a much broader ecosystem of left-wing public-health groups that advocate more persistent mitigations … This constituency is loud on Twitter, and they are influential in the press.”

Reagan was right that the road to socialism is paved with promises of better health. And unless the public realizes what’s going on, statism is where we will end up.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Reagan’s father-in-law (Nancy’s dad) was an Arizona doctor, and it is said Reagan learned a lot from him. The left did more than “seize on the public’s fear”. The left created the fear in order to impose the “solution” and advance their agenda. The left, via their Dem state governors, infested nursing homes with COVID patients to boost the death toll over the “magic 100,000 number”. It took six digits for the Dem’s TV propaganda arm to ramp the effective scare campaign. NY gov Coumo got an Emmy for his efforts. All part of a larger agenda.

    You know it is a larger agenda, because when it suits them they simultaneously declare “no health emergency exists” (e.g. to unleash more illegal immigration via Open Borders). Truth is irrelevant for the Marxist left and Democrat/communist party. They will concoct any argument to get their way, use any means, legal or illegal. That is how the party of Lenin operates. The cause is paramount. Maybe the party of Lincoln has become too brain-dead to notice or just does not care anymore. Just take a look at the elections. 2020 is repeating itself in 2022 in Maricopa County, Arizona where once again election law is ignored, ballots mysteriously appear out of nowhere, and hand-recounts and ballot examination (once taken for granted) are now forbidden. To top it off, the lawyer for the Mexican cartel was elected in Arizona and will be running the 2024 election. Just like the “good old days” when Al Capone ran Chicago.

  • “And unless the public realizes what’s going on, statism is where we will end up.”

    too late.

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