Posted by on January 11, 2022 7:07 am
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Blessing in disguise? How Biden could benefit from Supreme Court blocking vaccine mandate

Visitors line up at the Supreme Court in Washington as the justices prepare to hand down decisions, Monday, June 17, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Blessing in disguise? How Biden could benefit from Supreme Court blocking vaccine mandate

Haisten Willis January 11, 07:00 AMJanuary 11, 07:00 AM

As the Biden administration’s employer vaccine mandate hangs in the balance before the Supreme Court, there could be an upside for the White House should the regulation be overturned.

Rules go into effect this week, requiring employees at large businesses to either get vaccinated or mask and test weekly. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate has been challenged in court, and justices appear divided over its legality.

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But with significant pushback to the rules from both employers and some employees, overturning it could lead to increased stability in the workplace, where many businesses still struggle to fill openings.

Research by Isabel Soto, director of labor market policy at the conservative American Action Forum, estimated that 10 million workers at large firms are likely to resist vaccine mandates. If significant numbers decide to seek employment elsewhere, it would further constrain an already underpowered labor force.

“The mandate has the potential to be very disruptive to the labor market,” said American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin. “You can make a very principled, free-market case that employers get to decide the conditions on which they employ people. If you can sort this out with private contracts, why are you telling people how to run their companies? [A Supreme Court loss] would avoid that fight as well.”

The U.S. Postal Service is seeking a temporary waiver from the mandate, warning it could result in “substantial harm” to the beleaguered supply chain. And the rule’s implementation date was pushed back until after Christmas at the behest of business leaders worried about logistical challenges and worker shortages.

Some have also argued the realities of the omicron variant change the equation around requiring vaccines, which remain effective at preventing hospitalization and death but seem much less likely to prevent transmission.

“If the public health benefits diminish, the mandate case diminishes as well,” Holtz-Eakin said, predicting if the rule is overturned, it would “take one more political lightning rod off the books” ahead of the midterm elections.

But there are still plenty of benefits to mandated vaccination, argues David Madland, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress.

“The Biden administration wants to control the COVID-19 pandemic, and that will make the economy better,” he said. “That’s what will make the public happy, and that’s what they’re trying to achieve with the OSHA vaccine mandate. Anything that undermines their ability to do that undermines some of their ability to achieve their main goal.”

With case counts at their highest point of the entire pandemic, President Joe Biden is grappling with his promise to end the pandemic.

Asked last week if COVID-19 is here to stay, the president gave a contradictory response — saying it isn’t while appearing to suggest that it is.

“No, I don’t think COVID is here to stay, but having COVID in the environment here and in the world is probably here to stay,” he told NBC News’s Peter Alexander. “COVID, as we’re dealing with it now, is not here to stay. The new normal doesn’t have to be — we have so many more tools we’re developing and continuing to develop that will contain COVID and other strains of COVID.”

Vaccine mandates align with a strategy of trying to eradicate the coronavirus, and Madland says a majority of voters still prefer them. He argues many employees would prefer coming to work knowing everyone around them is vaccinated, indicating backlash if the mandate falls.

“It’s not even a true mandate, you can mask up to avoid it,” he said. “But the point is you’ve got to take safety precautions … You’ve got to be safe in the workplace, and not dying is a key part of being safe.”

He predicts that if the rule stands, it will help improve Biden’s popularity and thus the Democratic performance in the midterm elections.

The vaccine measure is slated to go into full effect next month, and a ruling is expected as soon as this week. No matter the outcome, there will be an economic and political fallout afterward.


“The politics here get complicated,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye. “The best thing that can happen for the Biden administration is for the country to get past COVID as soon as possible, and they obviously believe mandates are a way to get there. But government mandates come with a backlash from a public that wants to return to normal or whatever normal will be.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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