CLAIM: Vice President Mike Pence kicked off the Vice Presidential debate reminding his Democratic opponent Kamala Harris that her running mate, Joe Biden plagiarized the majority of their plan for a coronavirus response, saying it “reads an awful lot” like the steps what President Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force have already implemented.
“I can tell you having led the White House Coronavirus Task Force that that decision alone by President Trump bought us invaluable time to stand up the greatest national mobilization since World War Two,” Pence said. “The reality is, when you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump, and I, and our task force has been doing every step of the way. And quite frankly, when I look at their plan that talks about advancing testing, creating new PPE, developing a vaccine, it looks a little bit like plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about.”
Fact Check → True
The Biden plan is exactly the same plan that the Trump administration have done prior to the former vice president releasing his plan and has advanced in terms of the need to develop and distribute a vaccine, provide COVID-19 tests free, reduce costs for COVID-19 treatments and produce necessary protective equipment and ventilators.
The Biden Plan calls for:
- Mounting an effective national emergency response that saves lives, protects frontline workers, and minimizes the spread of COVID-19.
Trump directed his Administration to secure and distribute needed medical supplies to states in need, with over billions of PPE delivered so far. The President used the Defense Production Act, starting on March 27 more than 30 times to ensure we have the supplies we need and urged private companies to shift production to supplying masks, ventilators, hand sanitizer, testing supplies, and more.
- Make Testing Widely Available and Free
According to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, in order to accurately trace and combat this virus, President Trump set out to build the world’s best testing system. As of October 8, more than 121 million tests has been conducted
- Accelerate the Development of Treatment and Vaccines
Under Operation Warp Speed developed on May 15, Trump revolutionized the clinical trial process to ensure Americans get a safe vaccine as quickly as possible, by providing unprecedented investments in leading vaccine candidates to simultaneously produce them as they are tested and developed. As of October, coronavirus vaccine trials are in or near the final stage of clinical trials.
- Pursuing decisive economic measures to help hard-hit workers, families, and small businesses and to stabilize the American economy.
- Mortgage & Rental Relief for Impacted Workers
- Relief or Forbearance of Federal Student Loans and Federally Backed Mortgages
All three of those points in Biden’s plan was first implemented under the CARES ACT that passed on March 28. After certain provision of the CARES ACT expired in August and with House Democrats stalling talks to American people, Trump took executive action to give tax relief to workers, ensure unemployment benefits for those out of work, prevent families from losing their homes to eviction or foreclosure, and provide student debt relief for Americans already hurting due to the virus.
- Expand Food Relief for Hard-Pressed Families and Children
On April 17, Secretary Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) as part of the USDA to help farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. Trump provided the USDA under the CARES Act $19 billion directed for immediate relief programs that would provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.
Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to the president teamed up with Secretary Perdue to develop the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need. As of October, over 100 million food boxes have been distributed.
- Ensuring Unemployment Benefits (UI) Are Available to Those Who Lose Jobs but Would Be Denied Benefits Due to Rules that Should Not Apply in a Major Health Crisis and Economic Downturn
Under the CARES ACT passed on March 28, President Trump and his administration worked with Congressional leaders to secure direct payments to help the countless Americans who are hurting due to the pandemic. Those who were furloughed or lost their jobs were able to apply for Unemployment Benefits and received under the federal enhanced unemployment benefits $600 a week on top of the state’s unemployment claim. On top of the unemployment, every American who made under $100,000 received a stimulus check of up to $1,200 per adult, $2,400 for married couples. People would also receive an additional $500 per child.
Worth to note that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 when Biden was Vice President, not everyone got checks. Most taxpayers received tax rebates through a program called the Making Work Pay program. The ones who received a one-time payment of $250 went to recipients of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, railroad retirees, and veterans.
- Establish a Temporary Small- and Medium-Sized Business Loan Facility
The President negotiated and launched the Paycheck Protection Program – helping save 51 million American jobs. The PPP under the CARES Act has given over $600 billion of mostly forgivable loans to small businesses.
- Task the U.S. Department of Justice with combating price gouging for critical supplies.
On March 23, Trump signed an executive order aimed at preventing price gouging and hoarding of critical medical supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak. The executive order delegates the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prioritize the detection, investigation, and prosecution of fraudulent activity and price gouging related to medical resources needed to respond to the coronavirus. It also directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to designate scarce resources or resources the supply of which would be threatened by hoarding. The DOJ will work with HHS to enforce the anti-hoarding provisions of the order in cases where hoarding may be impeding the supply of health and medical resources needed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The only one point of Biden’s plan that he proposed that Trump or the Coronavirus Task Force hasn’t pursued or implemented because it is legally unconstitutional is ordering a “nationwide mask mandate.”
Trump can’t implement a nationwide mask mandate because such an order violates other constitutional provisions or the rights of states. Under the 10th Amendment, which defines that States primary duty during a time of war or pandemic is to protect public health and safety.
Such an order doesn’t fall under the president’s power as there is nothing in the Constitution that mentions an issue a mask order. Also, there is no law past or prior that Congress has enacted for the president to enforce. If Trump were to rely on Congress to create and pass a law requiring a mask order, the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi would empower her the Commerce Clause.
Under the Commerce Clause, Congress would mandate those traveling crossing state lines, or within the streams of interstate commerce, to wear masks. This is already implemented under the states, so there is no need for Congress to push for such a mandate if already put in place and Congress can’t force the majority of the American population who are not traveling to wear one.
If Pelosi were to ever push for a federal mask mandate under Congress, she can point to the Supreme Court’s expansion under precedent to expand congressional power pushed to protect the FDR’s New Deal in the 1930. This is turn would give Congress the power to create a law for a federal mask mandate. However, such a push for a law that is considered a requirement very broad to enforce thus it would face legal challenges. In recent years, the Supreme Court has strike down law Congress implemented as being one falling outside the Commerce Clause. Citing majority rule held in Obamacare’s individual mandate case, congress cant create commerce in order to then regulate it. So there Congress cannot use its Commerce Power to force people into economic activity.
In conclusion, the only part of Biden’s coronavirus response plan not plagiarized from Trump is unconstitutional. Let’s not forget that Biden has said that he taught Constitutional law for 20 years.