Jim Cramer: It's time for a national vaccine mandate run by the military

Jim Cramer: It's time for a national vaccine mandate run by the military

It must be nice to live in a world where you feel no obligation to reconcile your policy preferences with the Constitution.

In fairness to Cramer, like 98 percent of Americans also live in that world.

Did this guy have some time to fill at the end of today’s “Mad Money” and decide to let it rip with an if-I-were-king riff about the pandemic? I can’t grok this segment as a semi-serious policy recommendation. Watch, then read on.

Biden can’t even get his federal mandate for health-care workers to stand up in court. How would he get an “everyone get your shots or else” mandate to stick?

Would people subject to the Cramer mandate be forced to get two doses or three, now that it looks like nothing short of a booster will do in the age of Omicron?

What would the penalty for noncompliance be? I assume he’s imagining a fine, but his interest in putting the military in charge implies … stronger measures. Vaccines are currently available in 80,000 locations so we’re well past the stage where we need the troops or the National Guard to help administer it. What role does Jim see them playing here?

I suppose he could sidestep the constitutional objections (some of them, anyway) by having individual governors impose statewide mandates instead of Biden imposing a federal one. But, uh…

The tragedy of Omicron’s emergence is that I think we were creeping towards a consensus that the need for mandates has passed. Nearly 60 percent of the population has been vaccinated but a chunk of that remaining 40 percent are children, who almost never have dire outcomes. Another chunk are unvaccinated adults who’ve gained some degree of natural immunity by recovering from COVID. More than 70 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated. And boosters are now freely available to all adults who want one.

In a scenario like that, virtually everyone who’s vulnerable is vulnerable by choice. But now the new variant has come along, potentially making the vaccinated vulnerable again. Cramer would say that justifies a national vaccine mandate, but does it? The vaccines might no longer work effectively — ergo everyone needs to get vaccinated?

Encourage people to get their booster, have Pfizer and Moderna cook up an updated vaccine targeting the new variant for release in early spring, and let any employer who wants to mandate vaccinations for their staff do so. That’s the most one can reasonably hope for at this stage of pandemic fatigue, especially with anti-vaxxism having become a cultural rallying point on the right, to the morbid detriment of red states.

Lacking the power to order a national “no exceptions” vaccine mandate, the White House is forced to come up with other strategies to contain COVID. But what can they realistically do? Besides keeping Fauci away from TV cameras, I mean, which would be all to the good:

[W]ithin the walls of the West Wing, there was recognition of the political peril that looms, along with an implicit recognition that the public may not be willing to stomach the more dramatic measures to combat the new variant, even if Biden asked them to…

White House aides are also grappling with the best means to deliver their message around Omicron, as frustration long ago set in among the president and his inner circle about how masks and vaccinations have grown politicized. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief Covid adviser, has long been a trusted, go-to voice on public health, but he has become a villain among many on the right, leading aides to weigh whether he should cut back on appearances. But Fauci has been empowered to set his own media schedule and his National Institutes of Health supervisor, Francis Collins, another favored voice in the West Wing, has announced he will be stepping down, making the need for trusted communicators even greater.

Biden’s advisers blame the pandemic for most of the setbacks that have befallen his administration over the past several months, from soaring inflation to the struggle by many businesses to hire workers. And they blame the pandemic’s staying power on an intransigent minority resisting vaccinations, which has kept hospitals busy and forced even those who have diligently followed public health guidelines to remain masked up.

Biden publicly blamed the unvaccinated for America’s summer wave back in early September. It didn’t work; since then his job approval’s dipped into the low 40s. What’s Plan B?

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