Election 2020

Biden Claims America Would Be Better Prepared for Outbreaks If He's Elected. Here's Why He's Wrong.

Vice President Joe Biden talks during a news conference in Turkey on Jan. 23, 2016. (Murad Sezer/Pool Photo via AP)

Joe Biden has proven that he’s not above politicizing the coronavirus on multiple occasions. On Sunday, he doubled down on his politicization of the outbreak in an op-ed credited to him that was published on CNN, which claims that the country would be better equipped to handle outbreaks under a Biden presidency.

“No President can promise to prevent future outbreaks. But I can promise you that when I’m President, we will prepare better, respond better, and recover better,” the op-ed reads.

Here’s why that’s a bunch of malarkey.

Biden claimed that “Our government’s ability to respond effectively has been undermined by the hollowing-out of our agencies and the disparagement of science.” This is a regurgitation of an allegation he made last month when he said the Obama administration increased the budgets of the CDC and NIH, but that Trump cut the funding for these agencies. This was fact-checked by the Associated Press last month and was determined to be not true, yet Biden doubled down on the lie anyway. Neither agency saw their budgets cut.

Biden then mentioned that last week he “released [his] plan to combat and overcome the coronavirus,” which basically plagiarized everything the Trump administration had done already. I guess he still wants credit for stealing Trump’s plan.

But regardless of what Biden says he’d do differently, let’s look at his record to see what that tells us. The best way we can tell how an outbreak would be handled by a Biden administration is to look at how things were handled when Biden was vice president.

In short, not very well.

Remember the H1N1 pandemic? According to the CDC, from April 12, 2009, to April 10, 2010, there were an estimated 60.8 million cases, 274,304 hospitalizations, and 12,469 deaths in the United States due to H1N1. Clearly, the United States wasn’t prepared for it. We didn’t see any travel bans to slow the spread of it.

As PJM’s Victoria Taft noted about the H1N1 outbreak, “American health officials declared a public health emergency on April 26, 2009,” yet sought to downplay the announcement, calling it “standard operating procedure.” Barack Obama didn’t declare a national emergency until October, after millions of people in the United States were already infected, at least 20,000 were hospitalized, and over a thousand had died. Had a national emergency been declared right away, it would have freed up resources to address the pandemic earlier. Perhaps if the Obama administration had treated the outbreak more seriously, fare fewer than 12,469 people would have died during the outbreak.

On a similar note, the CDC, under Obama and Biden, was slow to generate a vaccine for H1N1. Yet, Biden has the nerve to claim the CDC was better prepared on his watch than it is currently under Trump? What a joke.

I think it’s clear that the Obama-Biden administration failed to meet the challenges of the H1N1 outbreak. The Obama-Biden administration proved itself to be less than adequate during the significantly smaller-scale West Africa Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016. The Ebola outbreak was never declared a global pandemic, but the Obama-Biden administration still had to concede that there were “shortcomings” in the federal government’s response. Even CNN panned the Obama-Biden administration’s response to the scare. CDC models were way off.

The lessons learned by the Obama-Biden administration in response to the global H1N1 pandemic and the Ebola outbreak should have resulted in improvements to our country’s ability to handle outbreaks. But that never happened. “The system is not really geared to what we need right now,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “That is a failing. Let’s admit it.” Fauci was responding to a question about our nation’s coronavirus testing capacity.

The Obama-Biden administration should have taken what it learned from the H1N1 pandemic and modernized the system to be able to handle such outbreaks. As a result of that inaction, the Trump administration is now having to address these issues. But, we should trust Biden when he says he’d handle the coronavirus outbreak better than Trump, who was busy addressing the outbreak while the Democratic Party was distracted by their efforts to impeach him. In fact, Trump’s decisive actions early on saved lives, according to experts.


Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis