“This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme,” said then-nominee Joe Biden at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
This allusion to the old Irish poet Seamus Heaney is one the former vice president and presumptive president-elect uses often in his public speeches. From Heaney’s famous work, “The Cure at Troy,” it conveys to readers and listeners alike that our hope for a better future is tied also to lessons and experiences from the past.
Let’s hope a Biden administration heeds these words and recent history when it comes to regulatory policy.
Amid the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic, it has no doubt been quite a few years since American society has yearned so eagerly for brighter days ahead. Fortunately, there are some glimmers of hope from the recent past that can guide the nation through the early days of the incoming Biden administration.
The regulatory approach taken by President Trump and his Cabinet secretaries saved the nation tens of billions of dollars in costs, a number estimated to rise to well over $200 billion once all actions are fully implemented. The economic growth attributable to the relative restraint in imposing new regulations may forever be untold, but is undoubtedly enormous, impacting big and small businesses.
The case for deregulation has never been a purely academic or economic one. The actions taken by the Trump administration have helped alleviate quite a bit of human suffering.
Namely, these regulatory cuts have allowed some businesses to stay open, families to stay connected, millions to get access to critical health services and information, and paved the way for the rapid introduction of a vaccine to combat this disease. The benefits of slashing red tape are anything but abstract.
It has already been documented by various outlets such as Reason Magazine how regulators from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stifled research and diagnostic testing early on in the pandemic.
Government restrictions objectively hampered the nation’s ability to respond rapidly to the growing threat and adjust our policy accordingly. There is little doubt the scale of the outbreak in the U.S. can be attributed to these early failures.
On the flip side, the Trump administration implemented its “Operation Warp Speed” plan, designed to quickly push vaccine candidates through existing barriers at the FDA. Pfizer (along with the German firm BioNTech) announced the development of a coronavirus vaccine in record time. This development will certainly accelerate the long-awaited return for normal.
Very little could serve as a better illustration of the prosperity that results when government steps out of the way.
This is far from the only way deregulation has assuaged some of the pain caused by the virus and the lockdowns that came along with it.
The Trump administration has helped remove restrictions surrounding telehealth and telemedicine. This freed up resources for doctors and hospitals and allowed them to be more innovative in treating patients. This move no doubt helped many get the care they needed in a timely fashion for both the coronavirus and other maladies.
The wide spectrum of accomplishments in deregulating technology and telecommunications has also been invaluable amid the pandemic. Repealing onerous Title II regulations led to increased investment in broadband infrastructure and a rapid increase in internet speeds.
This regulatory reform has made it significantly easier for tech companies to keep Americans connected and paved the way for the emergence of new companies like Zoom. This has been pivotal in adjusting to life working from home and has no doubt kept many businesses afloat.
None of this, of course, is to say that navigating the new realities of the pandemic has been easy. That is certainly not the case. However, cutting government regulations and otherwise exercising regulatory restraint has objectively made life during the pandemic better than it otherwise would be and has likely saved many lives and livelihoods.
With the emergence of this new vaccine, countless Americans may soon realize the hope of a better, simpler life post-pandemic. We should all sincerely hope that the Biden administration learns from the effectiveness of the deregulatory agenda of its predecessor and uses that same spirit to lift the economy back to prosperity.
Joe Biden should not forget the words of Seamus Heaney that he publicly invokes so often.
He truly does have the opportunity to make hope and history rhyme, and it could not come at a more necessary time for the nation.