WASHINGTON – Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Republic of California, raised a myriad of issues for eight hours last Thursday night until Friday morning, speaking in the House of Representatives in an unsuccessful attempt to thwart the House of Representatives’ passage of President Joe Biden’s social safety net. climate change bill. But among his boldest claims was that Biden was to blame for the country’s failure to quell the pandemic.
McCarthy used this line of attack even as members of his own GOP spent months defying mask orders and blocking presidential vaccination orders, and the party’s base undermined vaccination campaigns by rallying around those who refuse the vaccine. Intensive care units and morgues were overflowing with unvaccinated people, and the demographic was dominated by those who voted for former President Donald Trump last year.
As of mid-September, 90% of adult Democrats have been vaccinated, compared with 58% of adult Republicans.
Yet McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, insisted: “I took President Biden at his word; I caught him at his word when he said that he was going to take control of COVID, ”he said late at night. “Unfortunately, more Americans have died this year than last year from COVID.”
As cases rise again in parts of the country, Republicans are pursuing a new line of attack: The president has failed to deliver on the campaign’s main pledge to tame the pandemic, which his predecessor systematically downplayed. Democrats are incredulous, dismissing this strategy as another piece of spaghetti tossed against the wall.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates has dealt a major blow: “If COVID-19 and inflation lobbyists helped them kill more American jobs, Kevin McCarthy would be their favorite member of Congress,” he said. “He is actively undermining the fight against COVID, which is fueling inflation.”
And Chris Taylor, spokesman for the US Congressional Democracy Campaign Committee, called House Republicans “the biggest propagandist for COVID” for “recklessly waving their arms around life-saving vaccines” and for promoting ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug that is falsely claimed to cure COVID-19.
“When Republicans left the American people in the midst of the global crisis, House Democrats stepped up vaccine distribution to quell the pandemic, reopened schools, small businesses and provided massive monthly tax cuts for the middle class,” Taylor said.
But Republican strategists and sociologists say Democrats shouldn’t be quick to reject criticism, even if many COVID-related deaths this year were among those who ignored Biden’s pleas for vaccinations.
“McCarthy’s first blow to Biden is a blow to his competence – he sold himself to voters as the guy who could make a difference in the fight against COVID, but more Americans are dying,” said Neil Newhouse, a Republican poll poll. problem. “The bottom line is that Republicans have always been more focused on the economic fallout of the pandemic, and now we see independent and hesitant voters expressing concern about those consequences: supply chain, inflation, jobs, store closings or having what they necessary “.
He added: “There is a feeling that the Biden presidency is falling short of its promises.”
The Thanksgiving Wave is the latest surprise of the pandemic, which is approaching its two-year mark. The national average for new infections in 14 days increased by 25% to more than 94,000 new cases per day, with the Upper Midwest once again the hottest hotspot. At the same time, the effectiveness of vaccines against coronavirus is maintained, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unvaccinated people are 5.8 times more likely to test positive than fully vaccinated people and 14 times more likely to die if infected.
The guerrilla gap in infection and vaccination rates is narrowing only slightly. Most Republican counties have 2.78 times more new cases than most Democratic counties, up from a month ago, according to Democratic health analyst Charles Gab, based on data from Johns Hopkins University. The death rate in these Republican districts is almost six times higher than in the Democratic districts.
It is unclear whether the ongoing pandemic or the vaccination demands designed to overcome it are prompting the downgrade of the president’s approval ratings. Newhouse’s firm Public Opinion Strategies found that Biden’s overall approval rating for his pandemic response was a relatively good 51% in October, up from 69% in April and only 53% in August.
But in the suburbs where the 2020 presidential race was won, the president’s approval rating for the pandemic has dropped from 51% to 45% since August. And among white men, the decline is more pronounced: from 58% in April to 43% in August and 32% in October.
Republican lawmakers continue to try to block the introduction of vaccines at the local, state and federal levels. In September, Senator Roger Marshall (Roger Marshall, Kansas), an obstetrician, to block the use of federal funds to fulfill the presidential vaccine mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees failed with one vote after all 50 Republicans in the Senate supported it. …
Later that month, Republican senators passed legislation barring federal agencies from requiring proof of vaccination. This month Marshall and 10 other Senators wrote a letter to Senator Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. and a Majority Leader pledging to “resist all efforts to introduce and enforce” vaccine requirements with “every tool at our disposal, including our voices on spending.”
When McCarthy accused Biden of not being able to stop the virus, he also criticized him for demanding that people be vaccinated – even medical workers. According to him, Biden “fired workers who did not comply with his COVID requirements. These were the same people who were heroes a year earlier. “
Matt Sparks, a McCarthy spokesman, said he sees no controversy in the fight against vaccination demands, blaming the president for his response to the pandemic. For example, “natural immunity from infection recovered” must be sufficient to meet vaccination requirements, he said.
“Failure to recognize this fact further undermines public confidence in the vaccine and our public health officials,” he added. (The CDC strongly recommends vaccinating even those who have recovered from COVID-19, citing a Kentucky study that showed previously infected people were more than twice as likely to be infected with COVID-19 again than fully vaccinated people.)
Politics is not just a science: Republican strategists believe that Biden’s ratings on the economy – the key to his party’s prospects in next year’s midterm elections – cannot improve until voters are more satisfied with his performance in the fight against the pandemic.
David Winston, a Republican sociologist advising the GOP leadership, said Biden is repeating a mistake former President Barack Obama made early in his tenure when he interpreted his 2008 election as a mandate to fulfill his promise to provide universal health care. when it really needed to fix an economy that was mired in the Great Recession. In Biden’s case, his pursuit of ambitious welfare and climate change policies may appear to many voters as a distraction from their main concern: ending the pandemic so that economic life can return to normal.
During the presidential election last fall, Winston said, “The economy was problem # 1, but you couldn’t get to the economy until you solved the COVID problem. The people trusted the Republicans about the economy, and Biden – about COVID. “
White House officials say the president has made significant progress towards ending the pandemic. At this time last year, 250 million adults were not vaccinated. Now 50 million are left without vaccinations. In the early days of the administration, the government struggled to procure enough vaccine for those who wanted it. Now this is enough for vaccination of adults and children, as well as for revaccination.
And the nation’s largest employer, the federal government, has met vaccine regulations without major disruption.
Republicans insist on a different answer: the administration missed an opportunity to unify the country by condoning vaccinations and sending mixed signals about wearing masks and re-injecting. They argue that a more productive strategy would be to actively promote COVID treatments and other approaches that the unvaccinated might more readily accept.
Republicans argue that as Biden’s first year in office draws to a close, public opinion has changed. “Joe Biden and the Democrats have waged an entire campaign based on the dishonest promise that only they can stop the worldwide pandemic. They have failed and voters are punishing them accordingly, ”said Mike Berg, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.