Someone recently asked me when Congress would hold hearings to ensure the accountability of government officials who failed during the pandemic. After all, there is much to learn from the mistakes made at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Reserve, and the Trump and Biden administrations.
For example, who will be responsible for government-orchestrated blockade policies that, in retrospect, were poorly designed, ineffective, and incredibly costly? Who on the CDC will be responsible for the agency not detecting the virus sooner? What CDC officials will talk about the total confusion the agency has created by constantly changing messages and policy directions?
As for FDA rulings, there are too many to list. But I don’t hear anyone being able to talk, for example, that their officials are responsible for the continued lack of approval of the COVID-19 tests.
Don’t forget the public spending boom that spread long after 2020 without any post-crisis fiscal consolidation plans, or the Federal Reserve’s failure to predict the highest inflation in decades.
Unfortunately, in all likelihood, no one will be held responsible.
Do you think I’m exaggerating? Let me remind you that no one was publicly fired when the President’s Department of Defense led the disastrous exit from Afghanistan, or when we learned that one of his drones had mistakenly killed a dozen innocent people. Nor did they roll their heads during the Bush administration when it was revealed that a group of CIA consultants without credentials had made millions of people selling ineffective and illegal torture techniques. These agents have been empowered by bureaucrats from various agencies, many of whom still have their jobs. And no one is being fired for the ongoing fiasco on the southern U.S. border, where thousands of immigrant families seeking a better life suffer inhumanely.
Even more depressing is the fact that even if hearings were held and a consensus was reached on important mistakes, it would probably not change anything. After testifying at dozens of government oversight hearings on Capitol Hill, it seems to me that most are just exercises designed to generate media coverage. Even when a particular program is unanimously marked as wasteful or underperforming, it will almost certainly continue to be funded.
The best example of this comes from the Government Accountability Office, which publishes a report on overpayments every few years. The set of government programs that make these payments always seem to involve the same offenders. But nothing happens, and the number of undue payments grows.
Most recently, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was questioned by members of the House Energy and Trade Supervision and Research Subcommittee on the agency’s guidelines on the continued use of masks in school. Members on both sides of the aisle seemed uncomfortable with school mask mandates, and some noted that the studies used by the agency to justify its continuing requirements had been denied. The guidance was at odds with the available evidence and what most other countries were doing without an apparent increase in health risks.
Did this line of questions make a difference? No. Walensky acknowledged the “limitations” of mask studies, but declined to change anything. And so, many children up to 2 years old will still be masked in school. It’s outrageous, especially because the orientation is likely to change when enough Democratic-led states lift their own mandates. So much for pursuing science.
It raises the question of why people support it. This is partly due to the fact that most people have little information about any single, complex policy issue. In addition, The New York Times recently reported that the CDC is not publishing large portions of the available data on COVID-19 for fear that free readers will draw the wrong conclusions. But even though people demand change, they have little or no power over unelected bureaucrats.
Thousands of these unelected officials control our lives without accountability. That, unfortunately, will never change until we reduce the size and scope of government.
Veronique de Rugy is the George Gibbs Chair in Political Economy and a senior researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Will a post-COVID-19 government be held accountable? – Press Telegram Source link Will a post-COVID-19 government be held accountable? – Press Telegram