Shortly following the joint recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday to “pause the use” of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, former President Donald Trump slammed the decision, accusing the FDA of favoritism toward Pfizer and its vaccine.
Tuesday morning, the two federal agencies issued a statement “recommending a pause in the use of this [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine out of an abundance of caution” as they review data “involving 6 reported U.S. cases of a rare & severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine.” They note, importantly, that “these adverse events appear to be extremely rare” right now. Furthermore, they stated that over 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered throughout the U.S., as of Monday.
On Tuesday too, Johnson & Johnson issued a statement saying that it has decided to “proactively delay the rollout” of its vaccine in Europe.
Later that morning, Trump issued a scathing statement opposing the move and going after his successor’s administration.
“The Biden administration did a terrible disservice to people throughout the world by allowing the FDA and CDC to call a ‘pause’ in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine,” the 45th U.S. president began.
“The results of this vaccine have been extraordinary but now it’s [sic] reputation will be permanently challenged,” he added, predicting that the “people who have already taken the vaccine will be up in arms”.
Trump then started to accuse the FDA of preferential treatment toward the vaccine of Pfizer, one of Johnson & Johnson’s main competitors with the U.S., with the other being Moderna. Unlike its two main competitors’ vaccines, which require two doses for full inoculation, the Johnson & Johnson one only requires one dose, which carries its own pros and cons.
“[P]erhaps all of this was done for politics or perhaps it’s the FDA’s love for Pfizer,” Trump posited. “The FDA, especially with long time bureaucrats within, has to be controlled. They should not be able to do such damage for possibly political reasons, or maybe because their friends at Pfizer have suggested it. They’ll do things like this to make themselves look important.”
“Remember, it was the FDA working with Pfizer, who announced the vaccine approval two days after the 2020 Presidential Election,” the former president added. It should be noted that, according to The Hill, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said that the vaccine’s viability was announced as soon as possible.
“They didn’t like me very much because I pushed them extremely hard,” he said before arguing again that there would be no vaccine if he had not been in the Oval Office. “But if I didn’t, you wouldn’t have a vaccine for 3-5 years, or maybe not at all. It takes them years to act!”
“Do your testing, clean up the record, and get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine back online quickly.”
In response from the FDA and CDC’s move, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the agencies’ recommendation “will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.
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Biden Administration Proposes Rule to Fortify Federal Bureaucracy Against Republican Presidency
In a strategic move, the Biden administration has unveiled a proposed rule aimed at reinforcing the left-leaning federal bureaucracy, potentially hindering future conservative policy implementations by Republican presidents. This move has raised concerns about the efficacy of democratic elections when a deep-seated bureaucracy remains largely unchanged, regardless of electoral outcomes.
Key points of the situation include:
Presidential Appointees vs. Career Bureaucrats: Of the 2.2 million federal civil workers, only 4,000 are presidential appointees. The vast majority, made up of career bureaucrats, continue in their roles from one administration to the next. This continuity is facilitated by rules that make it exceedingly difficult to discipline or replace them, resulting in a bureaucracy that tends to lean left politically.
Union Political Affiliation: A striking 95% of unionized federal employees who donate to political candidates support Democrats, according to Open Secrets, with only 5% favoring Republicans. This significant political skew among federal workers raises questions about the potential for political bias in the execution of government policies.
Obstructionism and Challenges for GOP Presidents: Some career bureaucrats have been accused of obstructing Republican presidents’ agendas, leading to policy delays and challenges. For example, during the Trump administration, career lawyers in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division declined to challenge Yale University’s discrimination against Asian American applicants, prompting Trump to seek legal counsel from other divisions. The case was subsequently dropped when Joe Biden took office.
Biden’s Countermeasures: President Biden has taken steps to protect the bureaucracy’s status quo. In October 2020, Trump issued an executive order aiming to reclassify federal workers who make policy as at-will employees, but Biden canceled it upon taking office.
Proposed Rule and Congressional Actions: The rule unveiled by the Biden administration seeks to further impede a president’s ability to reinstate Trump’s order. Additionally, some Democrats in Congress are pushing to eliminate the president’s authority to reclassify jobs entirely. This has been referred to as an attempt to “Trump-proof the federal workforce.”
Republican Candidates’ Pledge: GOP candidates such as President Donald J Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis have pledged to address this issue. According to reports from Fox News, Ramaswamy has gone further, advocating for the elimination of half or more of civil service positions, emphasizing the need for accountability.
Debate on the Merit of the Civil Service: While Democrats and their media allies argue that civil service protects merit over patronage, critics contend that the system has evolved into a form of job security for federal workers with minimal accountability. Federal employees often receive higher salaries and more substantial benefits than their private-sector counterparts.
In summary, the Biden administration’s proposed rule and broader actions to protect the federal bureaucracy have sparked a debate over the role of career bureaucrats in shaping government policy.
Republican candidates are vowing to address these concerns, highlighting the need for accountability and ensuring that government agencies work in alignment with the elected president’s agenda. This ongoing debate raises important questions about the relationship between the bureaucracy and the democratic process in the United States.
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