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Media panic that new COVID variant could pose 'significant threat' to Joe Biden's agenda

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Media members on prominent news networks expressed panic Sunday over the impact the new COVID-19 variant — dubbed "Omicron" by the World Health Organization — would have on President Joe Biden's social spending agenda.

What is the background?

Last year, to attack then-President Donald Trump, then-presidential candidate Biden promised to end the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, during a presidential debate, Biden bluntly promised, "I will end this."

Noting that 220,000 Americans had died from COVID at that time, Biden also declared during that debate, "Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America." Now, more than 770,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

More than a year removed from Biden's promise to eradicate COVID, cases of the virus are spiking once again, and Biden has even enacted a new travel ban to eight African countries amid fear that the new "Omicron" variant could lead to another wave of cases. Biden, then, has not ended the pandemic, nor has his administration implemented a plan to stop the pandemic like he promised.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board recently wrote:

Covid deaths this year have now surpassed the toll in 2020 with 350,000 since Inauguration Day. It would seem that Mr. Biden has done no better than Donald Trump in defeating Covid despite the benefit of vaccines, better therapies, and more clinical experience. The left politicized Covid by holding Mr. Trump responsible for a disease that was always going to be hard to defeat.

What was said Sunday?

Speaking on NBC's "Today Sunday," NBC News anchor Chuck Todd suggested Biden should exploit the Omicron variant to push back against Republicans, explaining Biden cannot move forward with his legislative agenda if COVID remains "front-and-center."

Todd said:

What I'm going to be curious to watch here, with the president, is one of the things I think about his COVID response over the last couple months, is one could argue, he has not been the face of the COVID response, not in some time, really not really since we declared— back in July when he declared our independence from the virus obviously prematurely.

Does he take this opportunity to push back at all of the Republicans— particularly in various states— that have been anti-vaccine mandate, anti-mandates in general, hesitant on the vaccines, because if we do find out that certainly vaccinated individuals are in a much better shape with this new variant than unvaccinated individuals, does the president use this opportunity to basically use the bully pulpit, push back against all of this vaccine misinformation that's out there, and grab ahold of this because...the social spending bill, all of his other political problems— none of them can be solved until COVID is behind us.

And I think this is a reminder that he needs to be more front-and-center on the COVID response than he has been so far.

Meanwhile, ABC News deputy political director Averi Harper warned the "omicron variant could pose a significant threat" to the Biden administration's progress in enacting its agenda.

"This poses a significant challenge to the Biden administration, particularly on the economic front. Last week, we heard the president urge Americans to have confidence in the progress the economy has made. Well, the omicron variant could pose a significant threat to that progress. And heading into an election year for the Biden administration, which is critical, it could spell trouble," Harper said.

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