In the effort to keep our citizens safe as we battle against COVID-19, I have supported the directives, guidance, and use of emergency powers by President Donald Trump and Gov. Kim Reynolds. I believe they have followed the advice and modeling of our medical professionals. I also think they have acted in good faith and what they believe to be in the national and state interest. However, as soon as possible, we must open our economy and resume our lives, taking prudent precautions based on data in particular areas and regions.
I have said this several times before and will repeat it: we must not allow the cure for the coronavirus to be worse than the disease. We cannot continue our current status long term, and it is false that the economy will instantly return to normal when we do go back to work, as some seem to believe. The consequences of actions taken to combat COVID-19 will be long term and profound.
I am deeply concerned about the abuse of power that has recently been displayed in some states (not Iowa), where drive-up church services are being targeted, and free citizens are not being allowed to buy vegetable seeds and American flags. This is an abuse of power. While we must be concerned about the virus, we must also be concerned about the long-term consequences to our economy, our liberty, and our children’s future.
We must have a national conversation about the benefits of the actions taken to combat the coronavirus versus the consequences to our economic vitality, our small businesses, our livelihoods, and our liberty. The loss of life that would come from economic collapse and societal breakdown, very real possibilities if this goes on too long, must be carefully considered in deciding the extent of restrictions on our economy and liberty. Of course, we must care about every single life that could be lost to the coronavirus, but we must also care about the potential for substantial loss of life possible if actions taken to slow the spread result in consequences beyond our ability to mitigate or control. It will be painful, but as free people, we must have this conversation.
Governor Reynolds has responsibly used her emergency powers. However, we must evaluate what measures should be enacted to place a time limit on the use of extraordinary executive power in times of emergency, after which a vote of elected officials would be required for it to continue. We must ensure adequate protections are in place to safeguard our liberty, even in times of emergency.
We should also bear in mind, as the political games begin to play out on the Coronavirus response that Dr. Fauci and other medical experts are speaking only from one perspective. At the same time, our elected officials must weigh all factors, including what a continued shutdown will do to our economy, our families, and our future as a free people. Elected officials, by moral necessity, must do a cost-benefit analysis and ensure that we can survive the measures (costs) being advocated by those in the medical profession. They must also determine that the response is worth the damage that is done to our economy, our families, and our liberty. I think our elected officials must approach medical models with a healthy dose of skepticism as several of the preliminary models with dire projections of spread and loss of life from the coronavirus were later declared to be based on faulty data and are proving to be wildly inaccurate.
I am deeply disturbed when talking heads and so-called experts suggest that restrictions on our liberty and economy should go on for as long as 18 months. That is pure insanity. As free people, we can accept the drastic measures taken to fight this virus for a short time only, and even then, with a highly skeptical eye. To accept any of this as a “new normal” is to give up our liberty, economic well-being, and way of life for “security” that is nothing more than an allusion. The words of Thomas Jefferson should be well remembered in the weeks to come: “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
On the bright side, Iowa is in the best shape possible to weather the coming economic storm, which will only grow more ominous the longer we keep vast portions of our economy closed. Republicans have demanded fiscal responsibility in the six years I have served in office, keeping our reserve and emergency funds full while maintaining a healthy ending balance. The state’s rainy-day fund in 2019 would sustain state spending for about 37 days. This is nine days longer than the national average and places Iowa in a better position than at the beginning of the 2007 Great Recession. This is precisely because of fiscal responsibility demanded by Republicans.
I hope that we will continue to follow the guidelines and orders of our President, Governor, the CDC, and the Iowa Department of Public Health, as this will help ensure we get back to work and back to liberty as soon as possible. At the same time, our leaders must carefully consider the unintended consequences of continuing their restrictions for much longer.
I am grateful for the leadership of our President and Governor, and I suspect they share my sense of urgency in safeguarding our liberty and getting back to work responsibly but as soon as possible.