Several of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks have left observers scratching their heads, but perhaps the most perplexing and least qualified of the department head nominees is California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The first obvious question is, “what are Becerra’s healthcare or medical qualifications?”
The answer is, he has none. Unless one counts defending the Affordable Care Act.
Otherwise, Becerra’s only other experience managing a healthcare situation is allowing California to remain in near-total lockdown mode, destroying businesses and livelihoods, forcing millions of his state constituents into anxiety — and depression-inducing isolation, and allowing school children to be used as political pawns in a lost year of education.
Becerra’s dismal handling of California’s COVID-19 response does not bode well for the rest of the country if he is confirmed as the head of HHS.
California parents, students and — for the time being, at least — the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) desperately want the state’s schools re-opened and believe they can be operated safely during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
At this point, in fact, just about the only people who want the schools to remain closed are California’s teachers’ unions.
Unfortunately, there are more than 50,000 reasons to think they’ll get their way when the smoke clears.
To be precise, teachers’ unions spent at least$51,600 between 2017 to 2019 to advance Attorney General Becerra’s political fortunes.
Now, a leading official in one of the worst state COVID-19 responses and a politician who owes a lot to teachers’ unions may head HHS, which oversees the CDC.
On Friday, the agency issued a report stating that schools could, and should, be open to in-person learning immediately under reasonable guidelines.
Care to predict whether the CDC will align itself with scientific fact or Becerra’s benefactors if he’s in a position to allow unions to hold every student in the country hostage to their demands?
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton tweeted campaign finance data revealing Becerra accepted $14,600 in political contributions from the California Teachers Association/Association for Better Citizenship in 2017 and the California Federation of Teachers’ COPE gave $14,600 in 2018 and another $7,800 in 2019.
With more than 300,000 members, the California Teachers Association is the country’s largest teachers’ union and enjoys considerable power in state policymaking. It has successfully prevented children from returning to in-person education and relentlessly advocated for teachers to get vaccinated before returning to the classroom, among its other demands, including — of course — more taxpayer funding.
Teachers’ unions in Los Angeles, however, tried attaching even more strings to their agreement, including closing charter schools and defunding local police.
If confirmed, Cotton believes Beccera would “weaponize the CDC to keep our schools closed and our children falling further behind.”
California has long been the cronyism and union corruption capital of the nation. Now, Becerra is a Senate vote away from applying this model to the rest of the country.
When Biden promised to make his the most union-friendly administration in history, he didn’t come right out and say that meant turning over the levers of power to a greedy, unscrupulous special interest.
But the unions knew what he meant. And it turns out they were right.
Aaron Withe is national director of the Freedom Foundation, a multi-state public policy organization specializing in the abuses of government employee unions.