Former Vice President Joe Biden’s proposal for combatting the coronavirus cribs heavily from actions the Trump administration has already taken against the pandemic.
Biden, whom many believe has locked up the Democrat nomination, unveiled his plan in a televised address on Thursday. The speech, which was billed beforehand by supporters as commander-in-chief-worthy, heavily criticized President Donald Trump’s efforts to contain the pandemic.
“Our government’s ability to respond effectively has been undermined by the hollowing out of agencies and the disparagement of science,” Biden said. Adding that “our ability to derive a global response” was also “dramatically undercut by the damage Trump has done to our credibility and our relationships around the world.”
Instead of urging unity and calm, Biden spent a large portion of the speech leveling political attacks on the president. Biden, in particular, argued that Trump’s policies and demeanor in the White House only exacerbated tensions in the public health and safety sectors.
“Unfortunately, this virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration,” the former vice president said. “Public fears are being compounded by [a] pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by an adversarial relationship with the truth.”
Despite the tough rhetoric, many of the proposals Biden suggested for combatting the virus were, in fact, already central to the Trump administration’s efforts.
For instance, Biden’s plan calls for “no efforts” to be spared in getting private laboratories and universities to help test for the virus. The suggestion mirrors a move the Trump administration took in February in ordering the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow hundreds of academic hospitals and private laboratories to start testing for the coronavirus.
Similarly, the former vice president’s plan argues in favor of a federal relief effort for small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. The idea is identical to one Trump, himself, proposed on Wednesday, while addressing the nation in primetime. Trump’s version, which has been presented to Congress in the form of a $50 billion appropriation for low-interest loans to small businesses, includes detailed requirements for cost, eligibility, and implementation. Biden’s proposal, on the other hand, is vague in terms of cost, only stating the former vice president would push for the creation of a small-business loan program upon taking office.
Other core recommendations from Biden’s plan are indistinguishable from current Trump administration efforts.
Specifically, the former vice president’s proposal calls for revising existing laws and regulations to ensure insurance companies waive co-pays and deductibles for coronavirus testing and “any eventual vaccine.” Although Biden’s plan has an elaborate mechanism for ensuring such payments are waived, it remains unclear if such an extensive structural change is needed. The question is especially uncertain after Trump announced on Wednesday that he had convinced insurance providers to commit to waiving the costs for coronavirus. Trump has also secured other important concessions, including the expansion of coverage for treatment across all insurance plans. While this means that an eventual vaccine for the virus would not necessarily be free, portions of the cost would likely be covered.
Likewise, the former vice president’s pledge to “accelerate” the development of a vaccine is something the Trump administration has undertaken. In January, officials from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced they were fast-tracking the development of a coronavirus vaccine in anticipation of potential outbreak. At the time, health officials were hoping that a streamlined process would ensure the vaccine was ready for clinical trials by at least May. Biden’s proposal does not elaborate on how it would expedite the process any further, apart from stating the NIH “must be responsible for the clinical trial networks and work closely with the FDA on trial approvals.”
The similarities between Biden’s proposal and what the current administration is already doing to combat the coronavirus did not escape notice on Thursday.
“Joe Biden’s coronavirus remarks today sounded awfully familiar,” Andrew Clark, the Trump campaign’s rapid response director, said in an email to Breitbart News. “Listening to him, we felt a sense of déjà vu.”
This is not the first time this election cycle the former vice president has attracted scrutiny for the similarities between his official proposals and other sources.
In July 2019, Biden’s campaign released its policy for tackling climate change to much fanfare. Later it emerged, however, that some of the text and ideas presented had actually been borrowed, without attribution, from several high-profile climate change advocacy groups.