by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Candidates and lawmakers alike are using the novel coronavirus as political cover to pursue their different policy agendas under the guise of a pandemic response.
Republicans have skewered presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for repeatedly describing the COVID-19 outbreak as an “opportunity.”
The two-term vice president and 36-year Delaware senator told CNN last week the virus could be leverage to “fundamentally change the science relating to global warming.” Earlier, during a March virtual town hall, he suggested federal government negotiations over an economic stimulus package were a chance to push for investments in green jobs and infrastructure.
Jeff Sessions, the former Trump administration attorney general turned 2020 Republican Alabama Senate candidate, told Fox News last week an employment-based immigration moratorium would be “no doubt … in the interest of the United States.” He argued the respite would help prioritize the record number of people who lost their jobs when businesses were shuttered and millions were ordered to stay home to stop the spread.
George Mason University’s Jeremy Mayer said there was no shortage of opportunistic public officials and those seeking office during the coronavirus pandemic. He pointed to Republicans on Capitol Hill calling for “a huge tax benefit” as part of the main $2.2 trillion economic relief bill.
“On the left, many see the COVID-19 crisis as a chance to radically expand workers’ rights, boost the minimum wage, push for ‘Medicare for all,’ and other long-desired reforms,” he said.
“Democrats are also working to make voting easier for November. They wanted to do it before the virus, but this crisis provides a great platform for their efforts,” Mayer said.
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