Joe Biden's big week

Joe Biden's big week

Posted: Jul 29, 2021 11:51 PM
Updated: Jul 29, 2021 11:51 PM

President Joe Biden is having a big week, leaning into the challenges of the moment and coming away with two significant changes in policy. His speech Thursday marked an important new stage in the nation's Covid-19 vaccination program.

The President announced that federal workers will be required to have the vaccination, "the best defense" against the virus, as he said, or else submit to regular testing, wear masks wherever they work, social distance and not travel. Employees of businesses that want federal contracts will have to do the same.

Marking a shift away from the voluntarism that the administration has depended on until this point, the President is following the science by adopting the forceful model now being put into place for city employees in New York and Los Angeles.

Like other vaccine mandates that the nation has been using for over a century, individuals are free to make their own choice -- but if they want to learn or work in certain institutions, then they need to take the necessary steps to reduce the risk they could pose to others in transmitting a deadly disease.

A number of corporations and universities are adopting the same approach. Biden added that there would still be incentives, such as companies being reimbursed for giving employees time off to get themselves and their family vaccinated. CNN reported that the Treasury Department would call on states, territories and local governments to further incentivize vaccination, including offering $100 to Americans getting vaccinated, paid for with American Rescue Plan funding.

The President also outlined why the guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling for masks to be worn indoors once again in specific parts of the country. Masks "are not a political statement," he said, "it is about protecting yourself" and others.

In Biden-like fashion, he walked the nation through the rationale and the facts in a calm manner, with empathy and balance. He explained what the science currently says but kept the doors open to changes in scientific opinion -- such as the possible need for boosters. He didn't dismiss those who are unvaccinated, he appealed to them to reconsider.

Biden praised Republicans, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, for supporting vaccinations. "It's not about red states and blue states," he added, "it's about life and death."

"With freedom comes responsibility," he added, since the unvaccinated pose risks to everyone else.

The new policies are being put into place at the same time that there appears to be a breakthrough in the infrastructure package that has been the subject of discussion for months. After a long period of negotiation in the Senate, a group of Republicans -- including Sen. McConnell -- appears to be on board with a $1 trillion package that will include funds for roads and bridges, transit and rail, airports, waterways, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and more.

Both developments are extremely fragile. Each one goes against huge forces confronting the nation that will only intensify. The push to expand the rate of vaccination is crashing onto the shores of the anti-vaccination movement.

Though some Republican officials have finally called for supporters to receive their vaccines -- medical marvels boosted by Operation Warp Speed, which former President Donald Trump regularly touts -- the intensity of those fighting against the vaccine, including right-wing media, some politicians and online conspiracy theorists, has left large portions of the population unpersuadable.

Instituting requirements at places of work, learning and commerce will certainly help a great deal, but it might be too late to turn back the new wave of the Delta variant.

And if Biden can move the infrastructure package through the Senate, there are still many potential pitfalls along the way. The agreement does not mean that the fundamentals have changed on Capitol Hill.

If anyone thinks the pitched partisanship has diminished, or that the Republican Party has suddenly changed character, they should just look at the GOP response to the January 6 investigation.

With the exception of two lonely Republicans, the party has done everything possible to stonewall the effort to find out what happened in that horrendous attack on Congress and who was responsible. More evidence of the obstacles in Congress are evident with the success of Senate Republicans at blocking voting rights legislation as a number of states move to impose new restrictions on the ability of citizens to cast their ballot.

But if the administration can successfully navigate through these two inflection points, it would leave President Biden in an extraordinarily strong political position going into the fall. After all,Biden's promise was always his ability to govern -- trying to make things normal again, which means a functional government rather than the chaos of the Trump presidency.

Unlike other presidents who attract voters through charisma, soaring rhetoric or the promise of bold new agendas, Biden's selling point was always that he would focus on the task of problem-solving, tackling the nation's toughest policy challenges and bringing as many people into the conversation as possible.

Until now, that promise has been more of an aspiration than a reality -- as far as legislation goes. After the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act passed -- without Republican support -- progress stalled on a number of fronts.

Though time is the most valuable commodity in presidential politics, there are always opportunities to gain political ground after difficult moments. In an era where commentators constantly talk about winners and losers in American politics, the truth is that conditions change rapidly and a politician's status can shift abruptly.

If the President can deliver on bipartisan legislation -- combined with more robust policy achieved through reconciliation -- and get the nation quickly through this Delta moment without a repeat of the human and economic fallout from last year, he will deliver on his campaign promise. Not a specific policy, not a specific idea, but, rather, a demonstration of the ability to govern.

Pulling off a major bipartisan agreement in this era, with Sen. Mitch "Obstruction" McConnell's support would be a major and unexpected feat. If the President sets a model for others to require vaccination and curbs the current surge, getting us back to where we were a month ago, that, too, would be a stark contrast to the way events unfolded in 2020.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Terre Haute
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Robinson
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 66°
Indianapolis
Mostly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 61°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 66°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Marshall
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 66°
Sunny and dry, but cool and breezy!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1605320

Reported Deaths: 27132
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook61354910964
DuPage1039171357
Will873121089
Lake771121060
Kane65888850
Winnebago39007544
Madison38143576
St. Clair35003569
McHenry33032316
Peoria25972362
Champaign25862182
Sangamon24588271
McLean21879207
Tazewell19736326
Rock Island17806344
Kankakee16784234
Kendall15459106
LaSalle14496275
Macon14478240
Vermilion13234189
Adams12695148
DeKalb11667128
Williamson11419157
Whiteside7897176
Jackson769188
Boone760082
Coles7341112
Ogle713486
Grundy701281
Franklin686899
Clinton681498
Knox6651164
Marion6547138
Macoupin646399
Henry620474
Jefferson6060132
Effingham604382
Livingston571295
Woodford554291
Stephenson546289
Randolph529297
Monroe508199
Christian491780
Fulton487970
Morgan487296
Logan477474
Montgomery467476
Lee458156
Bureau427188
Perry415171
Saline409263
Fayette398956
Iroquois394673
McDonough354956
Jersey322253
Shelby311843
Douglas306636
Crawford304130
Lawrence301131
Union296747
Wayne274057
White265930
Richland262054
Hancock256334
Pike255956
Cass250928
Clark250738
Bond244024
Clay240047
Ford235256
Edgar234744
Carroll225437
Warren224960
Johnson213524
Moultrie211831
Jo Daviess206126
Washington206127
Wabash200915
Greene200739
Mason199351
Massac198144
De Witt195530
Piatt190814
Mercer190634
Cumberland178325
Menard158612
Jasper152418
Marshall134721
Hamilton128821
Brown10178
Pulaski98311
Schuyler9688
Edwards96315
Stark76827
Gallatin7435
Scott6975
Alexander67611
Henderson65114
Calhoun6442
Hardin56013
Putnam5444
Pope4815
Unassigned1882432
Out of IL40

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479