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How do we reignite our economy while schools, many places of employment, and some states remain shut down?

This is the simple question Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden refuses to answer. He’s touting his “Build Back Better” plan, which he ripped off of Donald J. Trump’s economic populism, promising workers in Ohio this week he’ll bring their jobs back. Biden blasted the president for high unemployment numbers – while conveniently ignoring his own stance that COVID recovery comes before economic recovery. Jobs be damned.

In the first presidential debate, Biden stated: “You can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis.”

His comments echoed remarks he made in an ABC News interview in August, where he said he would follow the science in regard to further shutdowns.

“I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives. We cannot get the country moving until we control the virus,” Biden said. Asked specifically whether he’d push to shutter economic activity if public health officials said it was necessary, Biden replied: “I would shut it down.”

As new COVID cases fluctuate after this summer’s spikes, the U.S. can’t afford another national shutdown. Knowing what we know now about the virus – low mortality rates, vulnerable populations and preventative measures -- Democratic governors in blue states should be encouraged to open up safely. Government can’t replace a thriving private sector, nor should it be encouraged to.

While the Trump administration issued science-based guidelines and worked with governors of both parties to safely reopen their economies, Biden ignored the experts and refused to voice support for any state reopening. The initial two-month national shutdown was so the federal government could ramp up on testing, PPE and hospital capacity. Now that we have done those things, many Democratic-run cities and states refuse to reopen, furthering our economic decline.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the states with the highest unemployment rates are run by Democrats who were slow to take steps to reopen.

“Nine of the 10 states with the highest jobless rates are run by Democrats, who have tended to demand that the economy should stay locked down and in some cases are still resisting opening,” the Journal reported. “States that are reopening faster are recovering faster and easing more economic suffering. The states that put a premium on trying to reduce the spread beyond the original purpose of protecting hospitals and the health-care system are lagging.”

The COVID pandemic will likely cost the American people a staggering $16 trillion, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Monday. The study doesn’t include the damage done to our youth by schools being shuttered, or other health conditions being ignored because of the pandemic.

It’s time for Democrats to stop politicizing coronavirus and admit there are real negative consequences on people’s livelihoods from continued shutdowns. Even the World Health Organization is now warning leaders against shutdowns as means to tackle outbreaks of the virus.

“We really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method,” Dr. David Nabarro, WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, told the U.K.’s Spectator this week. “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.

Indeed. A report this summer found a 41% decline among Black-owned businesses in the U.S. since the lockdowns began. For those residents, the recovery will be “especially painful,” the report found.

It’s time for Biden to square the circle on shutdowns. The economy simply can’t recover – and the wealth divide between the rich and poor will be further exacerbated if more shutdowns take place. Reopening safely and securely is the only path forward, and it’s one backed by science.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump’s pro-growth policies created millions of good-paying jobs and saw historically low unemployment rates. Now he’s advocating reopening, while Biden touts lockdowns and tax increases, which economists predict will lead to 585,000 more jobs losses.

If Biden had been in charge of leading America’s economy through the global pandemic, Americans would be reading headlines about more lost jobs and economic damage instead of record-breaking jobs reports. President Trump built the greatest economy in the world. He did it once and he will do it again.

This article originally ran on realclearpolitics.com.

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