Psaki Insists Biden Isn't Shutting Down America Again, But Says He Won't 'Take Options Off the Table'

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Posted: Aug 02, 2021 5:00 PM
Psaki Insists Biden Isn't Shutting Down America Again, But Says He Won't 'Take Options Off the Table'

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

In Monday's White House press briefing, Jen Psaki only added to the confusion surrounding the Biden administration's messaging on restrictions that may be levied amid renewed federal mandates invoked to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. In an attempt to clean up a briefing where Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre opened the door to more lockdowns last week, Psaki merely doubled down on the conflicting statements. 

"We've been clear, we're not going back to the shutdowns of March of 2020," Psaki stated. "We are not going back to the economy shutting down," saying "we've made too much progress, too many people are vaccinated, there's been too much progress on the economic front."

"But again," Psaki added, President Biden "has said from the beginning that we are going to be guided by the science, guided by our public health experts, and we're not going to take options off the table of what they may recommend."

So which is it? Can the White House assure Americans that they will not face a shutdown under the likes of which businesses and families struggled as two weeks became two months and eventually more than a year as Democrat governors and local officials extended lockdown orders and bans on gatherings, citing science? Or is the Biden administration truly not taking any options off the table, leaving the freedom of the American people and the future of the economy in the hands of Dr. Fauci and CDC bureaucrats?

Monday's briefing wasn't the first time the White House sent mixed messages in its attempts to assuage justified fears of another round of lockdowns while insisting the expert class remained at the wheel of America's response to the Wuhan coronavirus. 

On July 29, Jean-Pierre refused to say Biden would not shut down the country again, but that the White House would follow whatever "the CDC and the expert[s] and their guidance" dictated. 

And while on the campaign trail ahead of the 2020 election, then candidate-Biden said clearly "I would shut it down" when asked if he would use his authority to lock down the country again if public health experts recommended such action. 

What's more, the White House — and President Biden himself — have not managed to keep their stories straight on what Americans are allowed to do during the six months he's been in office. After all, it was less than three months ago that Biden, seated on the edge of the resolute desk in the Oval Office, told us in a now-reversed rule, "Folks, if you’re fully vaccinated — you no longer need to wear a mask." Biden and his CDC experts told us vaccination meant no more masking. Until they changed their mind. 

All that Psaki, Jean-Pierre, and the White House have made clear since beginning to backtrack to pre-vaccine guidance is that, as Katie put it last week, "If CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci recommend lockdowns, Biden will take their advice."

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