Kamis, 09 September 2021

US in turmoil after Biden’s ‘gross’ demand -

Joe Biden has been labelled a “dictator” and seen his popularity plummet after announcing “terrifying” new vaccination rules in America.

US President Joe Biden on Friday (AEST) announced a major escalation in America’s Covid immunisation campaign with strict new vaccination rules affecting tens of millions of workers, as he hardened his tone towards those who refuse the shots.

The six-point plan targets businesses with more than 100 employees, in the United States’ most aggressive steps taken so far against the surging Delta variant.

“A distinct minority of Americans supported by a distinct minority of elected officials are keeping us from turning the corner,” the Democratic president said in a televised address from the White House.

“The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatitis or cancer,” he added.

The most expansive of the actions involves requiring private companies with more than 100 workers to ensure they are vaccinated or tested weekly. The federal measure will impact an estimated 80 million people.

Republican politicians immediately slammed the administration and claimed it was overstepping its authority.

“Sounds a lot like a dictatorship,” House Republicans tweeted on their official account.

Numerous state governors also reacted angrily.

Tate Reeves, Mississippi: “The President has no authority to require that Americans inject themselves because of their employment at a private business. The vaccine itself is lifesaving, but this unconstitutional move is terrifying. This is still America, and we still believe in freedom from tyrants.”

Brian Kemp, Georgia: “I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration.”

Kristi Noem, South Dakota: “My legal team is standing by ready to file our lawsuit the minute Biden files his unconstitutional rule. This gross example of federal intrusion will not stand.”

The plan also mandates vaccinations for all federal employees and contractors. Currently, government workers either need to have a vaccine or submit to regular testing, whereas the new rule will enforce virtually total vaccination.

Some 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving government Medicare or Medicaid program funding will also require vaccination.

Only exemptions will be allowed for religious reasons or for people with disabilities — a strict approach sure to put Biden on a collision course with right-wing media and other powerful groups arguing that mandates amount to an attack on individual freedoms.

For its part, the US Chamber of Commerce “will work to ensure that employers have the resources, guidance and flexibility necessary to … comply with public health requirements,” its executive vice president Neil Bradley said.

Some 80 million Americans remain unvaccinated. Research shows they tend to be younger, less educated, and more likely to be Republican.

White people account for the largest share of people who remain unvaccinated, but Black and Hispanic people are less likely than their white counterparts to have received a vaccine, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Biden’s competency scrutinised

The administration’s early success in rolling out vaccinations and promoting mask-wearing gave Biden a lift after taking office in January.

After leading the world in coronavirus deaths under former president Donald Trump, the United States became a model for how to beat the pandemic.

On July 4, Biden even held a big White House barbecue to celebrate US Independence Day and freedom from lockdowns.

But the emergence of the hard-to-stop Delta variant over the summer has filled intensive care units again — and some 1500 people are dying every day, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Seeing his entire agenda on topics like the economy or climate change overshadowed by the pandemic, Biden badly needs to change its course or demonstrate he is in charge.

Much of the problem is beyond Biden’s reach.

The federal government has distributed free vaccine supplies across the country and also became the world’s largest donor to poorer nations.

On Friday, the Los Angeles school district, the nation’s second largest, voted for children age 12 or over who attend public schools to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the start of next year.

However, state governments, notably in Republican Texas and Florida, have actively resisted imposing mask mandates, while swathes of their populations refuse to get vaccinated — even as cases around them soar.

Biden and his supporters have taken to calling the current virus surge a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

Despite the role played by Republican leaders, Biden, who is simultaneously taking a hit from the traumatic US exit from Afghanistan, is getting much of the blame.

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 52 per cent approved of Biden’s handling of the pandemic, down from 62 per cent of adults in June.

Biden’s overall approval average ratings are firmly below 50 per cent for the first time in his presidency.

According to the Washington Post-ABC News survey, only 44 per cent approve of his performance, compared to 50 per cent in June.

— with AFP

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2021-09-10 03:22:52Z

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