Fact Check: Biden Claims ‘I’m Not Going to Shut Down the Country’

LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Wearing a face mask to reduce the risk from the coronavirus, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden talks to neighbors who gathered outside his meeting with veterans and union leaders on Labor Day September 07, 2020 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Biden is scheduled to travel later to …
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CLAIM: Joe Biden promised: “I’m not going to shut down the country. I’m not going to shut down the economy. I’m going to shut down the virus.”

VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. Biden said earlier he would shut down the economy if “the scientists” said so.

Biden tweeted Friday:

The former vice president has been at great pains to live down a comment he made in August in an interview with ABC News. As Breitbart News reported, Biden said:

“I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists,” Biden replied when asked by ABC’s World News Tonight anchor David Muir if he would shut down the country if experts proposed the measure.

“I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus,” Biden, flanked by running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), said. “That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with. In order to keep the country running and moving and the economy growing, and people employed, you have to fix the virus, you have to deal with the virus.”

After that produced a backlash, Biden backtracked.

In a press conference in September, when asked what he would do if economic advisers warned against shutting down the economy, Biden said: “There’s going to be no need, in my view, to be able shut down the whole economy.”

He left open the possibility that he would shut down the economy if there was a “need.”

Biden has also said that he would retain Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been part of Trump’s coronavirus task force but has also indicated a clear preference for harsher shutdowns. In a July interview, he seemed partial to Europe’s “97 percent” shutdowns, rather than the American approach, which he said had only locked down 50 percent of the country, at its harshest.

The challenge in managing the coronavirus pandemic is that society is not a one-variable equation. What might be necessary to stop the virus completely might also mean destroying the economy — which would cause its own drastic public health crises.

And it might not even work. European nations that endured the tough lockdowns Fauci admired have suffered another spike in coronavirus cases, and are locking down again.

Biden has campaigned on the idea that the only factor that matters is the spread of the virus. If that is what he truly believes, he will, in fact, be prepared to shut down the economy, and the country, again.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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