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OPINION

Vilsack: A choice that couldn’t be more clear

Submitted by Tom Vilsack

Days after I was elected governor of Iowa, I attended New Governor’s School in Delaware. There, I had a chance to talk with experienced governors who shared the lessons they had learned over their years of service. One governor emphasized how vital emergency management was in keeping the people we serve safe. That advice could not be more true today.

Sadly, in 2020, more than 8.5 million of our fellow Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and, tragically, 225,000 of them have died. Those aren’t just statistics. They represent fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors who were lost. Our government has failed in its essential responsibility to keep us safe.

On November 3rd, we face a serious choice. President Trump, after promising the virus would be gone by Easter, now says we “have turned the corner.” But he fails to acknowledge that a record number of Americans are testing positive every day and thousands are dying each week. Vice President Biden does not offer us false hope, but the hard truth that, for us to get back to normal, we have to aggressively contain the virus until a vaccine can be safely and effectively distributed.

While President Trump recently suggested that public health experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, were “idiots,” Vice President Biden understands that, in the face of a global pandemic, political leaders need to trust the public health experts when they advise us to mask up and socially distance.

And while President Trump thinks that the stock market is the economy, Biden understands that the pandemic has seriously hurt our economy with millions losing their jobs. Here in Iowa, more than 1 in 3 families have lost employment income since March. President Trump’s plan to put people back to work is to act as if there is no pandemic. Vice President Biden believes the government’s duty in the face of a crisis is to find opportunity within the crisis to “build the economy back better.” He proposes to get done what President Trump has failed to do: rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, promote clean renewable industries, and revitalize our rural communities.

Part of keeping people safe during a pandemic is ensuring people have access to health care coverage. President Trump has expressed hope that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is struck down by the Supreme Court, denying millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions access to health care coverage. Vice President Biden understands that peace of mind comes with knowing you have health insurance coverage to handle the expenses of caring for the virus, the flu or other serious health conditions. He has advocated for building on the progress made with

the ACA by offering a public option to lower costs and give people a choice in coverage. In doing so, Vice President Biden offers real hope to rural hospitals that have struggled under the Trump Administration.

I first met Vice President Biden 34 years ago when he visited Mt. Pleasant during his first presidential run. During that campaign, he often reminded us that the penalty for not getting involved is that people that are less qualified than you end up governing you. I believe that the importance of this election and the problems we face as a nation dictate that all of us get involved by casting our vote. Many have sacrificed so much to guarantee that right for each of us. We will honor that sacrifice by voting in record numbers. As we do we have a choice. For me, the choice is clear, which is why I voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Tom Vilsack served as the 40th governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007, and as the 30th U.S. secretary of agriculture, under President Barack Obama, from 2009 to 2017.