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EDITORIAL: President wants it both ways on the pandemic

President Joe Biden gave an interview to “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday. Among the newsiest items was the president’s pronouncement that the health emergency triggered by the coronavirus has passed.

“The pandemic is over,” Mr. Biden told CBS correspondent Scott Pelley.” We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. … But the pandemic is over.” As the pair wandered around the Detroit Auto Show, the president added, “If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it.”

Mr. Biden’s statement is obviously true. Most Americans have been living normal lives for many months now, and even longer. It’s true that COVID hasn’t gone away and the vulnerable, particularly ailing senior citizens, must be protected. But the disease has become far less deadly and the need for government public health interventions has long elapsed.

So why then does the president continue to use the pandemic to advance his policy agenda?

Just weeks ago, Mr. Biden announced an amnesty plan for up to $10,000 in student loans. At the same time he extended for another four months a student loan payment freeze in place since COVID began to wreak its havoc in March 2020. These unilateral actions were taken under “emergency” authority supposedly bestowed upon the president thanks to the pandemic.

In addition, the Wall Street Journal notes that the Congress and the Biden White House continue to shower extra taxpayer cash on various programs under the guise of “emergency” pandemic relief. “A March 2020 COVID law enables the government to hand out billions of dollars in welfare benefits to millions of people as long as the emergency is in effect,” the paper reported. “This includes more generous food stamps and a restriction on state work requirements.”

The pandemic also allowed states to expand eligibility requirements for Medicaid, the Journal revealed. That has increased costs by as much as $16 billion a month, but the Biden administration has shown no interest in revisiting that decision by removing from the roles recipients who had previously been ineligible.

Similarly, Democrats in many states — including Nevada — cling to emergency election measures that were intended to ensure voters didn’t have to risk contracting the virus while standing in line at polling places. Efforts to return to pre-pandemic voting policies have led Mr. Biden to accuse Republicans of embracing Jim Crow-type laws.

Mr. Biden is correct that the pandemic is over. Now he should start acting like it rather than trying to have it both ways.

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