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Op-ed

Horowitz: Did Joe Biden disavow lockdowns during the debate?

Which is it?

Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg/Getty Images

During the lead-up to the debate, I kept hearing pundits suggest that coronavirus was Joe Biden's strongest issue. However, after listening to the debate, Americans are likely asking more questions about Biden's true position on the lockdowns — the issue of our time.

Does Joe Biden support lockdowns or not? Even before moderator Chris Wallace got to the segment on the virus, Biden accused Trump of being responsible for virus deaths and not having a "plan" to deal with the virus. Then, when he got to explaining his plan, we all expected him to say that Trump pushed a reopening too soon. In fact, Biden accused Trump of shutting down the economy!

"We didn't shut down the economy. This is his economy he shut down," accused Biden during the segment on coronavirus. "The reason it's shut down is because, look, you folks at home. How many of you got up this morning and had an empty chair at the kitchen table because someone died of COVID? How many of you are in a situation where you lost your mom or dad and you couldn't even speak to them, you had a nurse holding a phone up so you could in fact say goodbye?"

Trump responded by asserting, wrongly in my view, that millions more would have died if not for the shutdown.

Biden explained that already in March he had a plan. But again, what is that plan?

We should be providing all the protective gear possible. We should be providing the money the House has passed in order to be able to go out and get people the help they need to keep their businesses open. Open schools cost a lot of money. You should get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap in your golf course and go in the Oval Office and bring together the Democrats and Republicans and fund what needs to be done now to save lives.

Huh? So now Biden is championing the opening of businesses and schools? Biden appears to be locked up in his basement, so he might not be aware of what is going on around him, but there are so many masks in this country that you find them on the sidewalks. Nobody has been lacking PPE for the past few months. The reason businesses and schools are closed in many parts of the country is because his party (as well as liberal Republicans) closed them, not because they lack the money to purchase cheap Chinese masks, which don't help.

Remember, it was Biden who said last night, "The party is me. Right now, I am the Democratic Party." Thus, the shutdowns are clearly him, and he has clearly expressed support for them in the past. However, throughout the night, he never defended a shutdown of businesses and schools, the crown jewel of Democrat economic policy at present.

Going forward, he warned about hundreds of thousands more deaths. Again, what's his solution?

"His own CDC director says we could lose as many as another 200,000 people between now and the end of the year. And he said, if we just wear a mask, we can save half those numbers. Just a mask."

Here's the problem: Almost every school and business that is open, except for rural areas, has a universal mask mandate and has had one in place for months. Why is it not working?

This is really one of Biden's greatest vulnerabilities. Trump began to discuss the calamity of the continued shutdowns, but he needs to press his advantage on this further without the distractions of some of his other theatrics. It's part of a broader problem that Biden has on policy. He had to retreat from or dodge any question about lockdowns, packing the courts, defunding the police, the rioters, or the Green New Deal.

In future debates, rather than trying to talk over Biden, Trump should remain silent and force Biden to answer these questions with stony silence. Then he should use his time to define Biden and provide a bold contrast.

One of the later topics in the debate was supposed to be racial inequality and race relations. That would have been a perfect time to show how Biden has supported the shutdown of businesses and schools, which has caused greater inequality than any policy in recent memory.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the number of black-owned businesses plummeted 41% from 1.1 million in February 2020 to 640,000 in April thanks to the lockdowns. White-owned businesses decreased 17% and Hispanic-owned slid 32%.

As far as schools, the achievement gap caused by the shutdown is obvious. It's parents who are already wealthy who can make other arrangements and form pods for group learning. Those who are less educated and have less means are totally reliant upon the traditional school system, which remains shut in most Democrat cities.

The simple reality is that Biden cannot keep his "I'm a man of Scranton" canard without disavowing lockdowns. It's time for Trump to press that advantage. After all, Biden publicly owned the Democratic Party and all its baggage.
One last thing…
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