Watching the overhyped Senate COVID19 hearings last week made one thing clear. Some Republicans are buying into a dangerous testing and tracking narrative driven largely by Democrats and the news media.
Perhaps most troubling was Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander’s position that "All roads back to work, back to school, lead through testing…millions more testing created mostly by new technologies to identify those who are sick, who have been exposed, so they can be quarantined . . ." He later also threw cold water on the idea that the University of Tennessee, of which the Senator used to serve as President, could reopen in the fall without “widespread testing” the 31,000 students on campus.
The notion of creating such an omnipresent testing and contact tracing regime should set off alarm bells over costs, privacy, civil liberties and the potential for abuse.
"Revenue Enhancer" is Democrat-speak for tax hikes. "Campaign Finance Reform" for the left means taxpayer-funded campaigns. "Medicare for All" is code for kicking Americans off their private insurance. "Women’s Reproductive Health" is the liberal, sanitized way of saying abortion-on-demand.
Similarly, "Contact Tracing" is the new euphemism for government surveillance of you, your family, your friends, and your co-workers. It should be resisted.
While some level of investigation by medical professionals may be necessary to ensure the safety of others, creating what could become a new sprawling government-funded tracking program would be a stripping away of our privacy and a sea change in American life not justified by the virus mortality rate.
Let’s be clear. There is no state, local or federal apparatus to track and trace millions of people. Additionally, testing everybody once would only give you a snapshot of the virus at one moment in time. A regime of ongoing testing of thousands of students at a university or millions of people in a city is also equally unrealistic. None of the experts have offered an estimate of how many times people would need to be tested for any locale to earn the nebulous “safe” designation.
This isn’t Denmark. It’s just not practical.
The type of programs being contemplated could easily result in databasing of Americans, exposing the personal information not just of patients but contacts, DNA collection and storage, violations of HIPA Laws and the exposing of the personal medical conditions of millions of Americans to the government.
In addition to the erosion of privacy rights, what Republicans and Democrats are really buying into is the creation of a massive new bureaucracy with all its administrative, benefits and legacy costs. Creating such a testing, databasing and tracking bureaucracy would balloon already bloated public payrolls taxpayers can’t afford.
It has been said that the only thing for certain in this life are death and taxes. Add to that the simple fact that once you create a government program, it won’t be eliminated. If anyone thinks all those new public employees are going to be laid off once the immediate threat of the virus is past, there’s a bridge for sale in Brooklyn.
Trackers and testers hired by governments will likely in many places be unionized increasing costs dramatically for taxpayers. In states like New York, the SEIU1199, the healthcare workers union, for instance, is already one of the most powerful interest groups in the state, spending millions every year to prevent Medicaid reforms, elect liberal Democrats and bilk taxpayers for billions.
That union’s power could grow significantly by advancing an ongoing testing and tracking regime involving millions of independent contacts.
The potential for abuse is staggering. Giving government an inch often leads to it trying to take a yard. Recent instances of the weaponization of government, particularly during the Obama Administration, should give everyone pause — especially senators like Alexander.
We know that Democrats weaponized the IRS during the Obama years, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer even calling at one point for the agency to be used as a political weapon.
We know that Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau inexplicably began a consumer snooping program that collected information on 300 million credit cards of Americans. We know that Obama’s Operation Choke Point used the Departments of Justice and Treasury to target and regulate industries without Congressional approval. We know that Obamacare was originally designed to infringe on the rights of faith communities and pro-life organizations.
The potential abuse at DOJ, the FBI and the Obama White House with respect to the Flynn unmasking and the bogus Trump-Russia collusion investigation are additional examples of using the levers of government for potentially nefarious purposes.
Then, of course, are the nonsensical regulations promulgated by governors during the crisis, that allow people to buy pot and booze but not attend outdoor church services.
Republicans and all Americans need to be on alert in these days. More testing is helpful, even necessary, but the last thing we should be doing is giving government even more power — especially when we are at our most vulnerable.
Tom Basile has been part of the American political landscape from Presidential campaigns to local politics. He served in the Bush Administration from 2001-2004, as Executive Director of the NYS Republican Party and has held a range of senior-level communications roles in and out of government. His new book Let it Sink In: The Decade of Obama and Trump provides a look back at the 2010s to prepare us to defend freedom in the 2020s. His critically-acclaimed book, Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq (Foreword by Amb. John R. Bolton), chronicles his time in Baghdad fighting media bias and driving coverage of the Iraq war. In 2011, he was featured in Time Magazine's Person of the Year spread about political activism around the world. Basile is an adjunct professor at Fordham University and runs a New York-based strategic communications firm. He is a member of the New York Bar and sits on a number of academic and philanthropic advisory boards. Learn more about him at TomBasile.com or follow him on Twitter @Tom_Basile. Read Tom Basile's Reports — More Here.
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