Legally, he has fewer options than other presidents or prime ministers to strong-arm the unvaccinated. The Supreme Court recently tossed his proposed vaccine mandate for employers on spurious grounds (though they did let stand the mandate for health-care workers at facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments).
But, as David Dayen argues at The American Prospect, the president still has vast powers. He can put through as many mandates and nudges as possible in every imaginable area, as quickly as possible, and hope that some of them take effect before courts can strike them down. He also can try to convince corporations to impose vaccine mandates on their employees, even if for no other reason than self interest — the CEO of United Airlines, for instance, recently described how before requiring vaccination, his workforce had seen one COVID death every week. Since then, he reported, United has “gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees.”
The value in these efforts would extend beyond their effect on vaccination, transmission, and death rates. They would also demonstrate to that angry majority that the government is doing something, that Biden understands their exhaustion and fury with an anti-social mindset so extreme it endangers the lives of adherents and the responsible among us alike.
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