Great America

Failures of the Administrative State in the Pandemic Crisis

This isn’t the time to change our leadership in the White House. It’s time to change the government the person in the White House oversees. The American people deserve better.

Within the next couple of weeks, the American people will have a clearer sense of how great a challenge our nation faces in the months and potentially years ahead. Despite Democrats’ insistent focus on making this pandemic crisis about President Trump and his Administrationand the media happily jumping on that bandwagonthere are facts that cannot be ignored, and many of them are things the Democrat members of Congress (or former members of the Obama Administration) don’t want the American people to know.

Recall that Democrats like David Axelrod and members of the Obama national security team attempted to claim that the Trump Administration had “gutted” or “eliminated” the National Security Council’s “pandemic” desk. That turned out to be a lie. In fact, the Trump White House had reorganized that team to better coordinate with other parts of the federal government. 

Then there were Democrat efforts to claim that the Obama Administration’s efforts to address the “swine flu” epidemic in 2009 were peerless. This despite the fact that Obama didn’t move forcefully on the issue until millions of Americans were infected and a thousand dead. 

The fact is that the same challenges the Trump Administration has faced over the past monthlack of testing, lack of coordination at the federal levelwere endemic a decade ago.

This is the most important point: over the past decadeand actually going back far longerour federal government has become bloated with bureaucrats and do-nothing Washington desk jockeys who in spite of alleged responsibilities, have done nothing to ensure our society is protected from things like pandemics. Our emergency response apparatus is no better today than it was a decade ago when these same careerists promised to fix the problem. 

Why, when a decade ago getting enough tests out to the states and healthcare facilities was a challenge, has there been no change in how the public health system engages with the private? To remind people, H1N1, otherwise known as the swine flu, infected somewhere in the neighborhood of 61 million Americans, hospitalized nearly 300,000 and killed anywhere from 13,000 to 17,000 Americans between 2009 and 2010. So we’ve seen pandemics before, in recent times, yet there is no improved process? 

People attempted to ridicule President Trump for telling governors that they should purchase medical equipment like ventilators through state procurement. Why? Because the federal process is too slow. That federal procurement process is the same one that was in place more than a decade ago. 

For a long time, Iand many othersbelieved the key to another term for President Trump was cutting the size of government; you drain the swamp by breaking apart the Administrative State. I still believe that to be the case. But just as important as cutting the size is fixing the government that actually is critical to the American people.

In the coming weeks, when we have a clearer sense of the challenges we face, we also have to know that people in the Trump Administration are thinking about the next wave of challenges we face. President Trump must set up a bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel that gets to the bottom of why the CDC and other federal agencies for more than a decade have not adapted to the needs of our communities and citizens. There are officials who must be held accountable; there are systems and processes that must be fixed immediately. 

My concern is that if America ends up dodging a massive tragedy through the fast, backfilled actions now being put in place by the Trump Administration, state and local governments, and private industry we may fall back on the bad habits that our government has practiced for decades. 

Most American citizens, who work hard and pay their taxes actually draw very few government resources and expect very little day to day from their governments. They expect that our military and law enforcement is keeping them safe. They expect that our Treasury and some segments of the Commerce Department are keeping our economy chugging along. Perhaps they expect the State Department to ensure their passports and visa requests are dealt with promptly or that their military pension checks or Social Security checks arrive on time. But what most if not all Americans expect, and are entitled to expect, is that when a national emergency hits our government will function well and keep them safe and our infrastructure running smoothly.

But when’s the last time anyone can remember any of that actually occurring? Certainly not in the Obama era. Not in the Bush or Clinton eras. And remember, for all of the remarkable heroism and sacrifice by our Greatest Generation, Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack; our nation’s leaders knew of the threats unfolding in Europe and Asia and still were not prepared for what was to come. After almost a century, isn’t it time that we expectedactually demandedmore from our fundamental government agencies?

At some point in the next few months, politics likely will return to some level of what passes for normal nowadays. We should remember this: Joe Biden and the Democrats have had decades of opportunities to fix these problems and have even claimed to fix them even as they have not. We have a president now who moved as quickly, if not more so than others in his position, only to run up against the same bureaucratic mess that let other presidentsand usdown. 

This isn’t the time to change our leadership in the White House. It’s time to change the government the person in the White House oversees. The American people deserve better.