COVID-19 is a Category 5 storm affecting the entire nation. As someone who has endured numerous natural disasters in Louisiana, our survival and recovery rely upon our continued teamwork and responsiveness. We must have government, private industry, and our citizens working together to take on this coronavirus.
Just a few days ago, on the way to a press conference with LSU Coach O and Gov. John Bel Edwards, I played my friend Tracy Lawrence’s song “Made in America.” I can’t play a song in an op-ed, however, we can do our part to make these lyrics come true: “It’s that go a little deeper when that goin’ gets tough; Made in America.”
Our doctors, nurses, truckers, door-to-door food delivery drivers, grocers, researchers and manufacturers are all showing what it means to be “Made in America.” The administration, Congress, and governors, attorneys general, and State Emergency personnel are similarly digging deep. Right now, we all need to dig deep. However, we must be mindful that this is not a natural disaster, but a real pandemic caused by open borders, the misinformation of foreign governments, and our dilapidated regulatory and legal climates which have forced our medical supply chain to be based overseas in places like China.
Decades of lawsuit after lawsuit, regulation after regulation, and bad trade deal after bad trade deal have driven the resources we need to be manufactured offshore. Our legal and regulatory climate penalizes research, development, and production. This morass of red tape has become very evident as the president moves quickly to unclog government processes that for years have “gummed up the works.”
We are still early in our fight against COVID-19 and so far, some of the biggest positives have been partnerships with great companies, regulatory reform efforts aiding the resolve of small businesses, and our nation uniting in the fight for our lives.
States, like Louisiana, are rising to the occasion by lifting regulations to allow small businesses a glimmer of hope. Similar regulatory reform measures at the federal level have fast tracked testing, potential cures, and the manufacturing of much needed medical supplies.
Over the weekend, 3M announced 500,000 masks manufactured in South Dakota were en route to New York and Washington state. Johnson & Johnson made public, a cure could be in human trial in a matter of months, not years. Our hope of recovery is tied to corporate citizens, who must continue to rise to the occasion to manufacturer the medical items we need, research and develop a cure and antibody, and work with President Trump and his administration in an unprecedented public-private partnership.
Additionally, we must all put partisan politics aside and combat this pandemic together. Last week, I held a press conference with my Democratic governor and our championship football coach. On Sunday, I watched the Democratic governor of New York urging all of us to put politics on the back burner. This week, I hope to see my former colleagues in Congress follow the states’ example and work across the aisle to continue taking on COVID-19.
While we are focused on reacting to COVID-19 today, we must be careful to realize the economic effects are vastly different from the financial crisis of a decade ago. This is not the byproduct of profit margins and poor business decisions. This is a domino effect that began with disinformation and a failure of foreign governments to properly warn their neighbors.
Our barbers, car mechanics and dental hygienists are hurting because of no fault of their own, their employers, or Mother Nature. Much like the clean-up after a hurricane, we must apply lessons learned and all lean in to help a neighbor and prepare for the next crisis. The World Health Organization and the United Nations must fully investigate the start of this pandemic — not to cast blame, but because we must learn lessons to better prepare for the future.
Some paths are abundantly clear as we look to the future. We must permanently sunset some of the regulations we removed to make it easier for small businesses to operate for years to come; enact meaningful tort reform to improve our legal climate and protect innovators from certain liabilities as they rise to the occasion; support one of President Trump’s earliest campaign promises — as we continue bringing jobs back from China; and ensure the supply chains of our critical infrastructure follow the energy sector, which is helping end foreign dependence on oil.
Doing so will ensure the communist Chinese government will never again hold the keys to the pharmaceutical ingredients, medical supplies or military products that our companies manufacture on their shores. We can bring this production back to America. It will require some ingenuity, innovation and regulatory reform.
For example, the FDA could require the Chinese to meet tougher U.S. standards for pharmaceutical ingredients, and other agencies could provide incentives to bring agriculture, high tech, and medical manufacturing production back to America. I believe it is worth it to ensure America is never again at risk due to the deceit of the Chinese government.
Accomplishing this won’t be easy. However, if we all dig deep enough, we can cut burdensome red tape, end frivolous lawsuits and invest in America’s manufacturing, small businesses, jobs and infrastructure, and these measures will continue America’s greatness for years to come.
• Jeff Landry is Louisiana Attorney General, chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a former member of Congress, and the immediate past president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
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