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Thomas Gallatin / April 8, 2020

Congress Inquisition to Target Private Sector

Pelosi’s new committee looks like a plan to scapegoat private business for government failure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week that Congress would create a committee to review President Donald Trump’s response to the China Virus pandemic. The announcement brought much consternation from conservative circles given that this pandemic inquisition is obviously the latest attempt by anti-Trump crazed Democrats to attack the president. In fact, Pelosi’s tapping of Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), who infamously referred to the pandemic crisis as “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision,” to head the committee only served to confirm conservative suspicions. Pelosi and company are simply looking for yet another molehill to elevate into a national scandal in the vain hope of taking out Trump.

Clearly hoping to obscure such clearly obvious motives, Clyburn insists that the focus of the committee was oversight and not investigations. “We’re not going to be looking back,” he says. Instead, the committee will address things like “price gouging” and “profiteering.” In other words, the lawmakers’ plan is to scapegoat private business to cover for the long list of failures by government officials at all levels.

The primary failure of government can be tied directly to too much red tape — the bureaucratic state. For example, Reason’s Billy Binion notes, “Consider the hurdles created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for one, which set onerous roadblocks to speedily addressing the crisis. It stood in the way of importing face masks, a critical need against mounting personal protective equipment shortages. It dramatically slowed private testing, which, as a result, is still widely unavailable for many who think they might have COVID-19. It even got in the way of the production of hand sanitizer, another item that’s been in short supply as consumers seek to follow hand hygiene guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All this malfeasance could be useful for an oversight committee to examine.”

However, as per Clyburn’s statement, the committee appears entirely uninterested in investigating these clear failures. Instead, Democrats will scrutinize private enterprise, as if private enterprise had anything to do with controlling this pandemic. Binion cogently concludes, “Deeply troubling here is that the federal government and its red tape prevented the public from recovering from critical shortages, or, even worse, from developing the means to beat back this virus in the first place. Most troubling is that they’re passing the buck to the victims.” If Clyburn’s vision for restructuring is anything like what his view for the committee is, then it sounds a lot like a classic case of socialism — control people’s lives and then blame them for the government’s failure to protect them.

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