Public interest comes last for US political oligarchy as epidemic response repeatedly constrained by Congress funding
Published: Sep 04, 2022 06:22 PM
US national flags fly at half-staff at the Washington Monument to mourn 1 million American lives lost to COVID-19, Washington, D.C., the United States, May 12, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

US national flags fly at half-staff at the Washington Monument to mourn 1 million American lives lost to COVID-19, Washington, D.C., the United States, May 12, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

While the Chinese people are being protected by free normalized nucleic acid testing against coronavirus, the US has suspended its offer of free at-home rapid tests through a government website since September 2, with COVID-19 funding drying up and no fresh cash infusion from Congress likely anytime soon. "Congress hasn't provided additional funding to replenish the nation's stockpile of tests," a banner alert on the federal website said.

Nucleic acid testing is a vital barrier to stop the spread of the epidemic. Unfortunately, curbing the epidemic has never been a priority for the US Congress when it comes to allocating funds. In May, the Biden administration urged Congress to pass the $33 billion in support of Ukraine, before trying to pass the $10 billion in COVID-19 relief funds that were considered necessary to supply updated vaccines and shots for the upcoming fall. US taxpayers' "life-saving money" had to give way to interest groups' lust for fueling foreign wars.  

"The US' failure to fully fund essential healthcare services such as COVID-19 testing isn't a question of money," according to Danny Haiphong, an independent journalist and political analyst in the US. He noted that the US ranks No.1 in the world in healthcare expenditure and its military budget is larger than the next nine countries combined. "COVID-19 testing, however, is not viewed as profitable to shareholders and financiers who dominate the US governance system," Haiphong emphasized. 

William Jones, a Washington political analyst and a Non-resident Fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of the Renmin University of China, believes Congress is spending billions on projects of interest to US' political oligarchy - some people call it a "deep state." "That's why Ukrainian right-wingers get HIMARS weapons and Jackson, Mississippi gets polluted water. That's not the way the system is supposed, but it is the way it does work," Jones said. 

The US prioritization of weapons manufacturing and government subsidies for private monopolies is yet another demonstration of how the interests of militarism and private corporations come before the people. People's needs come last - if at all - that's one of the most fundamental reasons why the US has become the world's "biggest failed country" when it comes to its COVID response. COVID-19 has tragically claimed over 1 million lives in the US. The latest data shows life expectancy in the US dropped in 2021 for a second consecutive year as COVID-19 drove up mortality rates. 

"The suspension of free at-home COVID-19 tests will affect poor and low-income communities in the US most who have already suffered a much more devastating impact of the epidemic than the rich," Zhang Tengjun, deputy director of the Department for Asia-Pacific Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times. Without a sufficient medical or social safety net, accessing COVID-19 testing at their own expense will undoubtedly increase their cost of living, noted Zhang. 

However, it's clear that those vulnerable groups' hardships, even their lives, mean nothing to policymakers in Washington. Despite big talk on human rights, those political elites have turned a blind eye to Americans' anger that "why don't spend more on treating this debilitating disease?" but sit coldly watching the virus eat away at people's health and lives. Ironically, they are extremely careful about protecting themselves against the virus. US President Joe Biden reportedly has been testing daily since he first tested positive for the virus. He was masking when he has four vaccines and was walking alone outside.

In order to cover up anti-epidemic failures, the US has launched a public opinion offensive against China's anti-epidemic policy, in an attempt to obliterate China's achievements in protecting people and satisfying people's demands for health. Washington is misleading the outside world to mistakenly believe China's "dynamic zero-COVID" policy is wrong. Its efforts to smear China by weaving lies will be futile. In the stark contrast of the numbers of infection and death cases, it's obvious to all which country actually prioritizes public health, and which don't. 

Normalizing free COVID-19 tests has become China's effective weapon in curbing the virus. The Chinese government prioritizes finances to ensure the health and maximum well-being of its citizens while the US dominated by political oligarchy is more prone to spend more on creating chaos worldwide. Under the people-oriented and people-centered COVID-19 approach, China takes the health and well-being of people as the starting point for its policies, while the US gives priority to special interest groups, which is a US governance tragedy. This clearly highlights the fundamental differences between China and the US in terms of governance philosophy, capabilities, and systems.