Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), during a tense exchange on Capitol Hill Tuesday, excoriated Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health officials, accusing them of spreading “undue fear” over the novel coronavirus pandemic and being puffed up with “fatal conceit.”Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
“Ultimately, this all comes down to the fatal conceit that central planners have enough knowledge somehow to tell a nation of 330 million people what they can and can’t do,” Sen. Paul noted during a hearing by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).
“Perhaps our experts might consider the undue fear they are instilling in teachers who are now afraid to go back to work,” Paul, a medical doctor, said, adding, “We shouldn’t presume that a group of experts somehow knows what’s best for everyone.”
While blasting public health officials, Paul cited Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism.
“Only decentralized power and decision-making based on millions of individualized situations can arrive at what risks and behaviors each individual should choose. That’s what America was founded on, not … a couple of people in Washington all telling us what to do and we like sheep blindly follow,” the senator said, adding:
It is a fatal conceit to believe any one person or small group of people has the knowledge necessary to direct an economy or dictate public health behavior … It’s important to realize that if society meekly submits to an expert and that expert is wrong, a great deal of harm may occur when we are allowed one man’s policy or one group of small men and women to be foisted on an entire nation.
The Kentucky Republican urged public health officials to “show caution in their prognostications.”
Paul directly addressed Dr. Fauci, the public face of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Paul told the doctor, considered America’s top infectious disease expert:
Dr. Fauci, every day, virtually every day we seem to hear from you, things we can’t do. But when you’re asked can we go back to school, I don’t hear much certitude at all. I hear well maybe. It depends. All of this body of evidence about schools around the world shows there’s no surge. All of the evidence shows that it’s rare.
“We just need more optimism,” Paul said.
Paul also torched Fauci for recently saying, with some caveats, that “it would be very hard” for some spectator sports to resume this fall and that herd immunity may be challenging to accomplish if Americans refuse to take an effective vaccine.
“Perhaps our planners might think twice before they weigh in on every subject,” the senator declared. “Perhaps our government experts might hold their tongue before expressing their opinion whether we can play NFL football or Major League Baseball.”
“Perhaps our experts might think twice before telling the whole world that a COVID vaccine likely won’t provide herd immunity,” Paul added. “We don’t know! Why weigh in with these opinions that we have knowledge of? These are forecasts that may well be wrong.”
COVID-19 refers to the disease associated with the coronavirus.
Overall, Sen. Paul blasted the federal government’s failed central planning, one-size-fits-all approach to combating the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus.
Responding to Paul’s remarks, Fauci blamed the media for distorting his comments.
“I agree with a lot of what you say,” Fauci said, later adding, “I feel very strongly we need to do whatever we can to get the children back to school.”
“When things get in the press of what I supposedly said, I didn’t say,” Fauci told Paul. “I never said ‘we can’t play a certain sport’. What happens, is that people in the sports industry…ask me opinions regarding certain facts about the spread of the virus, what their dynamics are, I give it, and that’s interpreted that I’m saying ‘you can’t play this sport’ or ‘you can’t play that sport.'”
“I agree with you, I am completely unqualified to tell you whether you can play a sport or not,” Fauci conceded.