President Biden's speech on the virus September 9, 2021

Rather than overwhelming the “breaking news”, I thought it would be useful to have a thread specifically for the President’s speech. (MODs, feel free to move this into politics, but I hope we can keep it in the Quarantine Zone.)

A few thoughts:

The “75% WE who are vaccinated” versus the “25% YOU who are not” - was much more of a scolding to the 25% than I expected. To paraphrase: YOU are keeping us from restoring the economy - YOU are keeping the infection rates up - YOU are overwhelming the emergency wards. I hope that this is effective. At least it lets the 75% know that they made the right decision. With all of the news stories of unvaccinated, vaccine protests, and vaccine lawsuits - being vaccinated makes me feel like one of the “silent majority”.

Now to Monday morning quarterbacking:

No mention of religious exemptions. As described elsewhere on this board, there are very few religions that actually prohibit vaccination. I believe this should have been stated, and the few religions which actually prohibit vaccination named.

Masks were mentioned only in passing. It would have been better if the President had mentioned this more forcefully, and even put one on after the speech.

The President should have pointed out that the news media bears some of the blame. 1) Their “man bites dog” stories of breakthrough infections - without context of how vaccines reduce the chance AND severity. 2) After the CDC said that VACCINATED people could dispense with masks (no longer true), many headlines were “CDC said that masks are not necessary”, then the qualifier was buried in the story.

Aha! I was just looking for a place to discuss this, and didn’t see any other mentions of it yet. Thank you for starting this thread.

I have one specific burning question on my mind.

This speech has generated huge traction in the media – I spent a big chunk of Thursday reading a whole bunch of articles on it until my eyes got bleary. And I didn’t see any mention of this:

  • How is that employer mandate supposed to be enforced?

Okay, I saw that he laid in on OSHA to deal with it. And I saw that he proposed at $14,000 penalty for each violation. What does that mean? What constitutes one “violation”? Oh, and I think I saw a mention that employees would not have to “prove” they’ve been vaxed, they only need to “attest” that they have. (Or maybe that was for something else?) Does that mean $14,000 for each unvaxxed employee after a certain deadline date? Or $14,000 per unvaxxed employee per day that they remain unvaxxed?

Does the President actually have the authority to decree this kind of mandate? (To be honest, I don’t care. It needs to happen, authority or no. Declare martial law, if that’s what it takes to make it happen.)

But my basic question still stands: How is the Federal Government going to compel all medium-to-large employers to make sure all their employees are vaxxed? Maybe tax incentives to companies that comply?

It’s about time Biden showed some balls about this.

I’ve been seeing a lot of op-eds lately saying, in various words: We’ve had just about enough of the unvaxxed whiners and crybabies, and we’re done with them. No more coddling these fools. It’s long past time now to start kicking some ass here.

And it’s about time Biden begins to take this kind of hard-ass approach.

And of course, there’s the politics. Yes yes I know we’re not s’posed to talk politics in this forum. But this is going to be utterly inseparable from the politics. Republicans are shrieking in outrage already – you knew that was going to happen.

Biden is taking a big political gamble. IF he is able to implement his six-step plan, plowing through all the right-wing opposition, and IF this succeeds by this time next year, there will be massive political benefits for Democrats up and down the ballots. But if the opposition succeeds in torpedoing all this, or if the plan fails to get the pandemic under control anyway, Biden’s ass will be grass.

As I’ve stated in another thread, there don’t actually appear to be any. Even the Christian Science church is more lenient than they are given credit for (they are typically one of the ones listed as prohibiting it).

Since the requirement is vaccination OR getting tested, I don’t think there need to be any additional exemptions. I don’t think there are any religions that forbid getting tested.

I don’t believe that we have the full scope of everything nailed down until the actual guidance is released. In the meantime, this is what the current supposition seems to be:

The federal government is mandating vaccines for their employees (USPS being excepted). For companies over 100 employees, they can choose mandatory vaccinations or they can offer testing as an option. The new policies will give stronger footing to those smaller employers who wanted mandatory vaccinations, but were concerned about the legal grey area aspects of doing so.

And again, I can’t find a religion that forbids vaccinations when there are government mandates. I’m sure there are individual churches where “Preacher Isaac” tells you that vaccines are the blood of the devil, but his Southern Baptist parent church doesn’t back him up.

Thank you for the responses. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned religious exemptions, although they always seem to be brought up whenever a company issues a mandatory vaccination policy.

So I should have remarked that the President should have brought up any classes of exemptions - past allergic reactions and so on. Get them out on the table and explain what is a recognized exemption and what is not.

Long, long, LONG past due. I literally cheered when I heard some of the things he was saying.

Does anyone know why the USPS is exempt? I would think that Postal employees - especially those who work in the retail units - absolutely should be vaxxed.

It’s about time Biden turned the car around and opened up a can of whoop ass. The Red Tribe will not be converted and they’ll find a way to avoid any penalties for being unvaccinated. Look for lawsuits galore.

The right never lets facts get in a way of outrage. One of my Facebook friends posted “How about the White House and CDC get vaccinated first?” Seriously.

It’s less about it being a conscious decision and more about how they are structured. A Biden spokesperson said:

USPS has a separate statutory scheme and is traditionally independent of federal personnel actions like this.

In other words, they could still be mandated, such as through OSHA, but it would require a separate action.

Basically, let’s wait until the guidance has been officially published and we’ll see if there are any gaps.

I don’t think you have much of a future as a speechwriter. No one has ever advocated vaccinations for those for whom it is not medically advisable. And they still should get tested. But reading five pages of the details would destroy the power of the speech.

A gamble but a good one. More and more of America is getting pissed at those not being vaccinated, and if Biden can cast the blame for the average person whose kids are sent home again, or who cannot go to a restaurant again at the anti-vaxx Pubs, he will do well.
I can say “serves you right” when an anti-vaxxer dies of Covid, but Biden can’t.
In public.

Great topic. This really is more politics than discussion on COVID itself, though, so I’m going to move it to P&E.

@Bonum_Legatum , thanks for understanding.

Did not see Biden’s speech. It was needed, but could backfire. The idiots that will not get a vaccine are mostly “Nobody is going to tell me what to do type folks” I think.

I work from home now. Everyone I know is vaccinated. It’s kind of ironic that Republicans are killing off their own base. But they will take some others with them.

In a larger company, meaning any with more than 100 employees, you can be sure there are folks who are willing to report a failure of compliance. OSHA understands how to enforce federal mandates, and they won’t have any problem with this one. I expect they’ll act if someone reports a compliance failure, but not otherwise. In other areas of workplace safety, OSHA conducts random spot checks on employers. Maybe they’ll do that for this mandate, too.

The process will shake out as time passes. I doubt they will impose a daily penalty for non-compliance unless the employee repeatedly attempts to report to work.

Biden’s actions appear to have been at least in part instigated at the behest of large employers, who sought cover to impose the mandate. I understand various studies show that most people will drop their objections to a vaccination if an employer requires it. Higher vaccination rates are good for business, and large employers know this.

As for whether Biden has the authority to impose the mandate, the answer is yes. Presidents throughout history have imposed such strictures on their citizens, starting with George Washington. He imposed a mandatory vaccination for his troops against small pox. The same federal authority that allowed George W. Bush to insist you remove your shoes and basically be molested by airport security before you can board a plane, or that you wear a seat belt while driving, permits Joe Biden to require employers to have their employees vaccinated. This is not uncommon throughout our history as a nation. Republicans are only pretending it is.

Jacobson vs Massachusetts should be in the first paragraph of every news story about this speech.

I’m also delighted at most of these measures, but I have real concerns about the corporate mandate.

Can a president simply create OSHA regulations via executive order? My understanding of the regulatory process is that it’s a long slog, often taking years for a proposal to be published as a rule.

But air travel is already governed by the FAA …

… and roads are public property.

Can a president just force private corporations to make sure their employees are vaccinated? I mean, I agree with the goal, but how is this different from (ludicrous example) Trump issuing an executive order that all corporations with more than 100 employees fire all their workers of Mexican descent?

“You don’t have to get the vaccine. But you also don’t have to participate in society until you do” is exactly the message we should have been sending a long time ago. Better late than never.

My company announced a mandator vaccination policy recently in anticipation of this and some of our clients requiring it as well. We’ve gotten significant pushback from some of our employees but a lot of support from others. One employee was so upset she decided it was a good time to cuss out HR. We’ll be dealing with a lot of religious and medical exemption requests over the next few weeks. I am somewhat uncomfortable delving into the religious exemptions and I think that’s going to be a minefield for us.