Coronavirus

Elizabeth Warren and Josh Hawley Will Do Everything Necessary To Combat Coronavirus (Unless It Involves Deregulation)

In two separate op-eds yesterday, the senators pitch central planning as the best response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The central planners of both parties are recommending we do whatever is necessary to tackle the nation's shortage of medical devices and personal protective equipment (PPE), save for removing government restrictions on the manufacture of those goods.

Yesterday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) took to The New York Times and Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) to The Washington Post to promote their respective visions for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession it's causing. Both senators have big regulation-centric ideas for addressing the dire shortage of PPE and other medical products.

"We must act now to have the government manufacture or contract for the manufacture of critical supplies when markets fail to do so," Warren wrote in the Times, listing PPE, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines as products the government should consider producing itself.

"Lifesaving medical products needed to fight this virus are in short supply," Hawley wrote in the Post. "We must also move decisively to secure our critical supply chains and bring production back to this country. The present crisis has revealed just how vital domestic production is to our national life."

The Missouri senator proposes creating local content laws for essential industries that would require them to source their materials from domestic sources, and which would be phased in after the current crisis.

These proposals are very much in line with the senators' pre-coronavirus policy proposals. Warren had already put forward a bill in December 2019 that would give the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the power to manufacture generic drugs. Hawley has been an outspoken China hawk and free trade skeptic for his entire time in the Senate.

By turning to protectionist industrial policies and direct government ownership of industry, the two lawmakers ignore the ways that existing government regulations have contributed to these shortages.

As Jacob Sullum noted yesterday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monopolized testing for the virus early in the year, and then shipped out defective tests to labs, likely blowing the country's best shot of containing COVID-19 early on.

In late March, a number of private companies were ready to start selling hundreds of thousands of tests directly to consumers, believing their products were covered by an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that allowed certified labs to start performing tests. But the FDA quickly shut down those efforts, instructing companies to stop selling at-home tests, and issued a warning to the public about "unauthorized" and "fraudulent" COVID-19 test kits.

Interestingly, the FDA is allowing some of these same at-home tests to be used by hospitals and healthcare provides, which Ron Bailey noted "indicates that these tests work and are in no way fraudulent."

The same thing can be said for the shortage of N95 masks that would help protect healthcare workers and everyday citizens alike from catching COVID-19. The CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requires that new N95 manufacturers have their product's tested at NIOSH's lab, and that new manufacturing facilities undergo inspections from the agency. That process can delay masks going to the people who want and need them by up to 90 days, leaving doctors to go to work with bandanas tied around their faces.

Those kinds of regulations should be particularly concerning for someone like Hawley who wants to see new domestic manufacturing facilities set up, yet he made no mention of such obstacles in his op-ed.

In a similar fashion, Warren has continually demanded the Trump administration be more aggressive in using its authority under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to spur the production of COVID-19 tests, PPE, and ventilators. She's also introduced legislation to that effect. For the most part, Warren is demanding that Trump use the DPA to spend more money and boss companies around.

As R Street Research Fellow Caleb Watney and  Alec Stapp of the Progressive Policy Institute argue in a Politico op-ed today, the DPA also gives the president broad authority to waive anti-trust and liability regulations. Doing so, they say, would allow more cooperation among firms trying to address the current shortages. That neither senator so much as mentions these free market reforms suggests that they are interested only in policies that conform to their pre-COVID-19 beliefs.

It's not only frustrating that D.C.'s "wonkiest" senators refuse to update their priors in response to a crisis that is crippling the global economy, it's actually dangerous when one considers how much damage has already been inflicted by the federal government's already centralized response to COVID-19.

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    2. I was wondering what your take would be on this. Thanks! Great post!

  2. Warren’s hope is that central planning will become the established norm.

    1. And Hawley hopes that centrally planned protectionism becomes the established norm. Both versions are anathema to individual liberty.

      1. Both versions are anathema to individual liberty.

        That may or may not be the case. However, the federal government has the constitutional power to impose tariffs; it does not have the constitutional power to force people to manufacture stuff. And the two powers are radically different in their effects on liberty as well.

        1. Constitutional central planning is good then?

          1. Yes, that is exactly what he said.

            You are observant and erudite.

          2. If you don’t like it, change the constitution. We are a constitutional government, meaning what powers the constitution grants government is valid for government to act on with full authority.

            Keep in mind that the abolition of tarriffs brought on income tax. One of those was constitutional, the other not.

          3. “Good” compared to what? You have to specify that, then I’ll tell you whether it’s “good”.

  3. People elected on the promise that they can miraculously fix shit are not very damn likely to advise leaving shit alone. Of course politicians support central planning, they’re the ones in the center doing the planning. It’s in the definition of politician.

    1. They couldn’t central plan their way out of a paper bag. This might be close to the dumbest, venal political class we’ve ever had.

  4. She’s upset that “literally Hitler” isn’t acting Hitler enough?

    1. More Hitler, please!!

  5. The FDA is making farmers dump food into the trash currently because of the regulatory differences in the supply chain between restaurants and grocery stores. Meanwhile we have breadlines.

    1. The bread must be good if people are waiting in lines for it. The bread must be bad if people aren’t waiting in lines.

    2. Similar thing with TP – there is plenty out there, it’s just not packaged for retail sale.

    3. “The FDA is making farmers dump food into the trash currently because of the regulatory differences in the supply chain between restaurants and grocery stores.”

      Certainly has the ring of truth to it, but is it true and can someone cite a reference for it?

  6. See, here’s the thing: The US heard everything Fauxahontas had to say, and rightly rejected her 1/1024th indian ass. They decided she was just a lying POS egghead.

    1. Well yes. I really didn’t get who she was supposed to appeal to? Like the cat totting school marm?

      1. Beer drinkers….definitely the beer drinkers. 🙂

    2. Warren, I’m afraid, doesn’t qualify for egghead status. She was a diversity hire, not an egghead hire.

  7. Elizabeth Warren represents 1/100 of one half of one third of the federal government. She is less than two-tenths of one percent of the federal government. Her proposals are only important to the journalists who link to, print, listen to, or repeat them. If Liz Warren were a television program, she’d have been cancelled several seasons ago, and the series would not be in reruns, not even on some obscure broadcast channel that doesn’t even show up on cable. The programs that clobbered the Liz Warren Show in her time slot were awful, too. Her show was even worse than theirs!

    If we wait long enough, they’ll replace Warren with a Kennedy, but before that happens, we need to do our part and ignore her. She is nothing. She was once a confidant of Barack Obama, but that was ten years ago. If she’s ever relevant again, it’ll only be because President Joe Biden appoints her as Secretary of the Treasury or something, but Joe Biden wouldn’t admit to that–not ahead of a national election for fear of the embarrassment of having his name associated with such a hated loser.

    The reason Bernie Sanders did so much better than Liz Warren was because she made unsubstantiated accusations against him. If Liz Warren accused Joe Biden of doing or saying something awful, his popularity would probably improve. This only shows that calling her irrelevant is missing the point–she has negative relevance. People on the left might offer to pay her if she promised never to talk about them or their issues for fear that associating them with her in people’s minds would hurt them.

    Why are we paying attention to Liz Warren?

    1. Why are we paying attention to Liz Warren?

      She’s at least a little better then the coronavirus?

      1. She’s at least a little better then the coronavirus?

        Genetic tests show she is only 99.9% corona virus; the rest is 0.1% Native American!

        1. No, no, no….she is 1/1024th Native American! Which comes to 0.097% 🙂

      2. Try ts berlin and stay home in a pandemic time

    2. If Liz Warren accused Joe Biden of doing or saying something awful, his popularity would probably improve.

      Such accusations only work against self-aware individuals with agency. At this point, accusing Biden of something awful is like accusing a toaster of something awful.

    3. “If Liz Warren accused Joe Biden of doing or saying something awful, his popularity would probably improve.”

      If Liz Warren hates him, then maybe he’s not so bad after all!

      McDonalds should pay Liz Warren to tell everyone her favorite restaurant is Burger King.

      I suspect the reason the news media doesn’t understand not just why but that average Americans hate Liz Warren is the same reason the news media doesn’t understand not just why but that average Americans hate the news media, too.

      1. I, for one, hate the media much more than I could ever hate Warren. She’s practically irrelevant.

        The media deserves the Woodchipper.

  8. “We must act now to have the government manufacture or contract for the manufacture of critical supplies when markets fail to do so,”

    “We must also move decisively to secure our critical supply chains and bring production back to this country. The present crisis has revealed just how vital domestic production is to our national life.”

    One of these is a proper function of the federal government.

    One is not.

    I leave it to the reader to figure out which is which under the US Constitution.

    1. Contract for the manufacture of supplies is constitutional.

      Do I win?

      What’s the prize?

      1. Where does the federal government get the constitutional power “to contract for the manufacture of critical supplies when markets fail to do so”?

        1. Just like they contract for the supply of paper or pencils or fighter jets. With free market bidders.

          1. The issue isn’t whether the federal government can contract with the private sector; they obviously can do that. The question is for what purpose they do so.

            Contracting for fighter jets is justified by an enumerated power, namely national defense.

            Contracting “for the manufacture of critical supplies when markets fail to do so” is not justified by any delegated power. In fact, it is the antithesis of limited government, because it’s a catch all for “the federal government can contract for whatever it wants to for whatever reason it wants to”.

  9. “We must act now to have the government manufacture or contract for the manufacture of critical supplies when markets fail to do so,”

    What a load of crap. The market will manufacture critical supplies IF YOU ORDER THEM. The fact that politicians refused to do so in order to spend money on their pet projects is not a market failure.

    1. There is no government failure that won’t result in pointing the finger at absolutely anyone else.

  10. Mmmmmm. I don’t think I want anyone from the DMV or TSA moving over to centralized manufacturing. I seem to recall a billion dollar website that was complete piece of shit coming from our central planners. I mean what could go wrong when the people making things have shown time and again they can do nothing right?

  11. Stupid libertarians. Everyone knows that problems created by too much government can only be fixed with moar government. Jeez.

  12. 1. Declare martial law
    2. Establish strict shelter-in-place regulations: no leaving the house except in cases of medical emergency
    3. Draft the unemployed into essential food delivery service until the curve comes down
    4. When vaccine is developed and deployed, transfer the essential food delivery service employees to new green jobs

    This could all be over by the middle of May, if only we had the strength as a country to do what’s needed, as well as the respect for other people and their health.

    But Americans don’t respect anyone but themselves.

    1. This is a joke.
      Right?

      1. Fauchi sock

      2. It’s either a joke or a Hillary/Biden/Sanders/Obama voter. It’s impossible to tell.

  13. >>The Missouri senator … would require them to source their materials from domestic sources … phased in after the current crisis.

    this dude’s an (R)?

    1. Yes, but in his case it stands for “retard”.

  14. you people worry too much. we just need the *right* central planners and everything will be golden.

    1. Yea, you try Shemale in Berlin and relax yoursle a little

  15. I think that Josh Hawley’s argument is much better than Warren’s, and that you are being a bit disingenuous in arguing there’s an equivalence between them. Warren is arguing in favor of central planning and government production of essential goods, something that’s obviously inefficient and stupid.

    Hawley is arguing something else. That international markets, while normally more efficient in economic terms, are vulnerable to supply disruptions resulting from exogenous international events. I think that China’s behavior during this crisis has demonstrated that Hawley has a point.

    1. Life is full of risks. Deal with it.

    2. That international markets, while normally more efficient in economic terms, are vulnerable to supply disruptions resulting from exogenous international events. I think that China’s behavior during this crisis has demonstrated that Hawley has a point.

      You are exactly correct. And if I’m so goddamn stupid that I prefer lower prices and less reliable delivery to higher prices and more reliable delivery, I need Josh Hawley to put a gun to my head and force me to make the same choice he prefers. For my own good. And so does every other corporation with management too stupid to know that there are trade-offs with buying stuff from far-away places rather than nearby places because I’m sure not a single manufacturer has ever thought of that before.

      1. And if I’m so goddamn stupid that I prefer lower prices and less reliable delivery to higher prices and more reliable delivery, I need Josh Hawley to put a gun to my head and force me to make the same choice he prefers. For my own good.

        The US government puts a gun to the heads of US investors and businesses to pay for absurd US government regulations. That is clearly a bad thing, wouldn’t you agree?

        But that is why prices abroad are lower. In the absence of any other regulations, US producers simply become completely uncompetitive. To avoid that, the same kind of legal framework that puts the gun to the heads of investors and businesses should also put the gun to your head and force you to pay tariffs.

        We have a choice between a marginally functional unfree system and a self-destructive unfree system. You prefer the latter, I prefer the former.

    3. I believe that Hawley is missing the point that international free trade creates supply chains from across the world, not just a monopoly of production in one country. For example I refer to the Reason.com article “Why You Shouldn’t Trust Anyone Who Claims 80 Percent of America’s Drugs Come From China,” (which I think is an awful and unnecessarily inflammatory title, BTW) which debates the facts used to make the titles claim, not that it denies the possibility of the claim, but the facts used to make the statement are not supported under hard scrutiny. The article refers to active pharmaceutical ingredients used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and provides evidence of broad international manufacturing facilities, a significant portion in the United States. With multiple international supply chains, the world is not dependent on one country for goods and services. If one country is in a war or has a major natural disaster, other supplies can step up production and fill needs. Consider the world supply o oil since the US began supplying oil as a result of fracking. The influence of OPEC is significantly less since that technology has brought more oil to the world market.

      https://reason.com/2020/04/06/why-you-shouldnt-trust-anyone-who-claims-80-percent-of-americas-drugs-come-from-china/?utm_medium=email

  16. Central planning is dictating everything inside a system… like micro management. Our brains are central planners of our entire bodies, sending out orders to our organs through the nervous system (as an imperfect analogy). We should limit that kind of central planning within a country.

    What Hawley is proposing is interface management. We can’t know the inner workings of other countries any more than we can inside our own intricate balance. What we can manage is the inputs and outputs between countries.

    For global free trade to work, you need a central governing force ensuring the same policies, restrictions, and regulations exist between all countries.

    That would be a whole new world of central planning – like the EU.

    1. For global free trade to work, you need a central governing force ensuring the same policies, restrictions, and regulations exist between all countries.

      Yes, because it’s not like spontaneous order can arise from various people seeing what works and imitating it such that everything from everywhere tends to take on a sameness of character – like all the different fast-food restaurants and grocery stores and gas stations and department stores tending to look alike with similar product lines. I certainly don’t think it’s just a coincidence that polar bears live where it’s cold and fish just happen to live in the sea rather than the other way around, somebody must have planned it that way.

      1. Yes, because it’s not like spontaneous order can arise from various people seeing what works and imitating it such that everything from everywhere tends to take on a sameness of character – like all the different fast-food restaurants and grocery stores and gas stations and department stores tending to look alike with similar product lines.

        Yes, it’s certainly not like that. A lot of the uniformity you see in business and the massive global megacorporations are the result of government regulations, government created barriers to entry, and government restrictions on the financial markets.

    2. For global free trade to work, you need a central governing force ensuring the same policies, restrictions, and regulations exist between all countries.

      Tariffs have nothing to do with a global “central governing force”. Tariffs are a national decision. They are about ensuring that any overhead government imposes on domestic manufacturers is also imposed on foreign manufacturers.

  17. Stock photo I know, but the insanity comes through just the same.

    So very, very ashamed to live in Massachusetts and being responsible for inflicting this nutjob on the rest of the country.

  18. Mulcahy’s Law: It is no Fun being a Regulator Unless You have Something to Regulate.

  19. My God she still hasn’t changed her clothes. The odor must be even worse than that of that Michael Moore.

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  21. Is this the new York times comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable, or what?

  22. Anything the private sector might do, the government can do better. That seems to be Warren’s mantra. No evidence for that, but who needs evidence?

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  24. Will she admit to lying about the Amer-Indian bullshit?

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  26. Just wait till Warren tries to square the increased cost of manufacturing these “critical” items in the U.S. vs buying them from China (one maker of cloth surgical masks said that the imported ones retail for less than the material cost of the domestics) with the push in M4A to “bend the curve” and cut costs in the medical system overall.

    Luckily for her, her supporters never put any two of thier thoughts side-by-side for long enough to see how often their ideology is self-negating and internally contradctory; as for her critics, they’ll just get called “misogynists” and “bigots” as a pretense for refusing to address any questioning of her “leadership”. I won’t be surprised when I see some of the leftists I know calling her plan for a government takeover of industry “anti-authoritarian” as well.

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