Do What You Do Best Joe

Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, had a great tweet the other day, “In truth, the vaccination program, combined with the naturally acquired immunity of people previously infected with the virus, would probably get the U.S. close to herd immunity by the summer, even if Joe Biden spent the next six months just riding his Peloton.” His contention that the vaccine regime Biden inherited will tame the virus by summer received even more clarity. Johnson and Johnson asked for FDA approval for its vaccine this week. Already in use in the U.K. since December, the AstraZeneca vaccine could be approved shortly. Novavax expects to have its results by the end of the first quarter.  

The U.S. has contracted for 100 million doses from each company. Johnson & Johnson requires only one shot, while the other two need a double dose. These vaccines maybe a little less effective than the two already in use but are much easier to distribute. They require the same handling as our seasonal flu shots so they can use the same widespread system. 

As I said in my 1/24 post “Birth of A Lie’,” the Biden administration could only mess things up. Specifically, I warned against placing orders for much more of the two already approved hard to distribute vaccines. Sure enough, Biden ordered 100 million more doses from each for delivery starting in the summer. If any of the three new vaccines in the pipeline are approved, you will have more than enough doses to vaccinate every adult in the country by then. (at present, there is no plan to include children).

Given the success of the already-in-place vaccine distribution plan, leaving it alone is the best policy. Just incorporate the already contracted new vaccines as they come online. How do we know the current program is a rousing success? Biden’s goal was 100 million doses to be administered in his first hundred days. We were already on that pace by his inauguration. He now aspires to get to a 1.5 million a day rate by the end of the hundred days. We have already surpassed that rate. Having met all the Biden goals, the Administration must agree this is a success. 

The press plays up the uneven and, in some spots, problematic vaccine rollout. Remember, this was from a standing start. The special considerations with the two approved products ruled out the distribution network we used for other vaccines. I always say, we have to ask, compared to..? Faced with the same problems, the European Union is far behind our shot rate.  

There will be glitches and weather disruptions, but with more vaccines and supplies coming online, we can feel confident we will continue to outperform the Biden goals. 

Those goals point to a different problem, the ignorance of the Biden team. By issuing desired vaccination goals already attained and claiming the pandemic here will worsen when improving, the Biden administration is at odds with the facts. “A 100 million doses in 100 days” is a good slogan but had no basis in reality. The nation recorded well over 2 million shots the last two days. The Biden low-ball shows a remarkable lack of knowledge of Operation Warp speed. Is it ignorance or politics?  

The administration has claimed inadequate transition information from the previous administration, but the info is public knowledge. I can assure you I have never had a government briefing. Yet, I have the needed information to know what’s happening. Given what the Trump administration put in the works, we will be swimming in Covid vaccines by the end of June. Like the GameStop bulls, I found it on the internet. Here’s your pandemic update from Johns Hopkins:

To give the appearance of doing something, the administration announced a couple of actions. It claimed to be increasing vaccine deliveries, but the New York Times reported this was already in the works. Also, it will send a million doses to 6,500 pharmacies. This action might be getting ready for the Operation Warp Speed’s supported Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Without special handling, this one dose vaccine is excellent for pharmacies and other local distribution points. The J & J vaccine is on the verge of approval. If not, it’s just diverting doses from a system already able to inoculate 1.5+ million people a day. 

With the improvement in the pandemic outlook on the horizon, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has predicted our in-place recovery will gain pace in 2021. This rosy prediction to return to pre-pandemic conditions is based on tax and regulatory policies presently in place. The International Monetary Fund concurs with the CBO assessment.

One 2021 problem area the CBO found is employment. This lagging indicator will still be under the pre-pandemic level. It would seem jobs boost would be a top Biden administration objective, but it has gone in the opposite direction. It canceled the Keystone Pipeline, work on the border wall, and new oil and gas leasing on public lands. These actions will cost thousands of jobs. In the $1.9 Trillion Covid package, it has proposed raising the minimum wage to $15. According to the CBO, this too will cost jobs. Also, the recommended increase in unemployment benefits may make some reluctant to return to the workforce.

This hugely expensive bill includes $130 billion for schools. Teacher unions in many places appear to be holding out for this largess before returning to the classroom. Quite an incentive to stay out. Meanwhile, many people with children can’t go to work. Biden’s silence on this issue is deafening. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others have implored the President to speak out to zero effect. Nobody can find a scientific basis for public schools to remain closed. We will be tallying the damage for decades.

The whole $1.9 trillion package is highly questionable. With much of the last Covid Appropriation still unspent, this vast amount of money will hit amid a healthy recovery. This spending could fuel inflationary expectations and threaten the recovery. Even Lawrence Summers, Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, has expressed his concerns

With already everything in place to return to everyday life, let’s apply Ferguson’s tweet across the board. Rather than issuing a slew of detrimental actions and proposals, keep Joe on his Peloton. To highlight his best feature, he could regularly emerge like the cuckoo in the clock to cry, “I’m not Trump, I’m not Trump,” get his applause from the media and return to his bike. 

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