The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status, as it updates its masking guidelines on Tuesday, according to an administration health official.
As the White House announced the Biden administration will fully support new lockdowns if advised by the CDC, one might wonder, exactly who is the CDC?
As James Freeman points out in the WSJ, during the pandemic, government officials exercised extraordinary power over the lives of individual Americans, and none more so than the CDC. How can it be that unelected CDC officials are issuing guidance that presumably run (or ruin) American lives?
While Washington Republicans grumble about the unfairness of it all, they in fact are smitten with the administrative state, too, argues Andrew C. McCarthy in NRO.
It is an ingenious accountability dodge. Modern American officials, regardless of party, are delighted by an arrangement in which they can take credit when things go well but feign powerlessness and blame the faceless bureaucracy when things go wrong.
Why the Farmers Didn’t Structure a Unitary Executive?
“Unitary executive,” explains Mr. McCarthy, is the theory that the Constitution “vests the full scope of executive power in the president.”
All other officials in the sprawling Article II branch are the president’s delegates; they exercise not their own power but the president’s, under the president’s direction and at the president’s pleasure — meaning that, even though major officials require Senate consent to be appointed, the chief executive must be able to fire them at will, for they are an extension of the president’s authority, not their own.
The Framers didn’t want the president to be a monarch, and saw to it the inter-branch checks were in place to prevent that.
The constitutional executive is unitary in order to ensure accountability. The system is built that way to make certain that when the executive branch must make a major decision that affects our lives, an elected official who answers to us cannot pass the buck.
Accountability concerns regarding national-security decisions became attenuated as the 9/11 attacks receded over time. People were intently interested in them right after the attacks because they felt their lives were deeply affected. But as the years passed, 9/11 did not recur, and the burdens of the war were shifted to military families. The public, never as invested in “War on Terror” as in the great wars of the 20th century, lost interest as the security mission morphed into futile nation-building exercises on the other side of the world.
That is not going to happen with COVID-19.
The government’s response to the pandemic is deeply affecting Americans of every age and demographic. Lives, health, education, livelihood, our security in the here and now, our children’s security now and in the future — everything is on the line. This is not something that’s happening in Fallujah and Kandahar. It is happening here, to us, very personally, every day.
Who Elected Anyone in the CDC to Do Anything?
The people we did elect to the Senate did not get to vet Dr. Rachelle Walensky’s appointment as the current director of the CDC because her job “in the dizzying vastness of the administrative state, is not deemed sufficiently senior,” continues Mr. McCarthy.
Dr. Walensky, Not a Senate Confirmed Appointee
(Dr. Walensky) is just senior enough to rule the country, not to rate a confirmation hearing.
And when you ask the White House what’s up with the erratic veers in COVID policy, President Biden, or Jen Psaki, or some other functionary, assures you that the CDC will get it straightened out any time now.
America has a non-accountability framework that “invites officials to weave between virtue-signaling and throwing up their hands, as if governing were somebody else’s problem.”
This is not going to fly, not when we’re dealing with basic safety and security. The pandemic has bubbled the crisis to the surface. But it’s not just a CDC crisis. It’s a legitimacy crisis.