White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to mock the idea of free at-home COVID tests in a testy exchange with a journalist at the daily press briefing on Monday.
National Public Radio’s Mara Liasson asked Psaki why the U.S. government did not make COVID tests free and available everywhere — a policy backed by many experts, and which is the norm in the United Kingdom and several other countries.
Psaki mocked the idea, as she tried to defend the Biden administration’s approach:
Jen Psaki somewhat mockingly asks reporter at the White House Daily Press Briefing if the US should be sending out rapid #COVID19 tests to every household.
— Matt Karolian (@mkarolian) December 6, 2021
Some observers, including Brown University economics professor Emily Oster, were shocked by Psaki’s flippant response:
I'm appalled by this answer, in part due the the tone. But also it suggests no one is talking about doing this — free, widely available tests — even though many other countries are. I just do not get it. https://t.co/BXJ3xJhczJ
— ProfEmilyOster (@ProfEmilyOster) December 7, 2021
Epidemiologist Michael Mina called Psaki’s response “an SNL spoof of the last two years of my life”:
I can’t believe this isn’t an SNL spoof of the last two years of my life.
— Michael Mina (@michaelmina_lab) December 7, 2021
The Biden administration recently announced a plan to provide free at-home coronavirus tests available to the uninsured, but the insured will be required to pay for them through private insurance policies, which could ironically make them more expensive, as the New York Times recently noted.
After nearly a year in office, the Biden administration has neglected testing, focusing instead on vaccine rollouts. Ironically, Biden focused on the testing issue during the 2020 presidential campaign, making it “a major campaign issue,” the Times noted at the time. In Biden’s coronavirus policy, he declared: “We are now several months into this crisis, and this administration refuses to own up to the original sin of its failed response — the failure to test.”
The Trump administration’s first tests failed due to a “technical glitch” and the fact that the federal bureaucracy traditionally reserved the development of new tests for itself, rather than allowing the private sector to take the lead. Dr, Anthony Fauci said at the time that it was not Trump’s fault that the first tests failed.
The U.S. quickly outpaced other countries and has conducted more tests than any other nation, though free, rapid, at-home tests are still unavailable.
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). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. 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.