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“America will never be a socialist nation,” President Trump proudly proclaimed in his 2019 State of the Union Address. Sadly, as each day of this coronavirus pandemic wears on, these words seem to grow less and less prophetic. Just as we think we’ve reached our capacity for government intrusions into the daily lives of Americans, we’re reminded that we may not have even scraped the surface.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now asserted its jurisdiction over… residential leases. Yes, you read that correctly. The agency is moving to end evictions for the remainder of the calendar year. This is a horrifying development for a wide variety of reasons.
CDC inserting itself into private rental contracts, effectively transferring control of private property from the lawful owner to the renter, is possibly the most socialist action our government has taken in decades... and without an act of Congress!https://t.co/phLwFIYWlO— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) September 2, 2020
As Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) points out, this is a gross violation of property rights. Landlords rent out their property and receive compensation in return. This is a fairly basic reality for almost any good or service. For the federal government to come in and prohibit landlords from being able to remove people from their own property (especially if they are unable to pay for it) is an effective seizure of said property. It is unacceptable to force anyone to give up their property for free.
Beyond this, the legal authority is shaky, at best. Massie, along with Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) noted that they cannot find any legal basis upon which the CDC can implement and enforce such a policy.
Toomey also elaborated that this will likely set the stage for even more egregious violations of property rights in the name of social welfare in the future, "What future administration, what future president, certainly what future Democratic president is going to want to be accused of being less generous than Donald Trump?" asks Toomey. "Are we to expect that the standard response of the government to an economic downturn is an eviction moratorium? We've never done that before."
Experts also warn that the expiration of this moratorium at the end of the calendar year will set our nation on the glidepath to a catastrophic housing crisis come 2021. The moratorium will either eventually prevent landlords from collecting rent or will create a backlog that will need to be collected in January. At that point, a good many people unwilling or unable to pay will be evicted.
Lastly, this eviction moratorium creates a further incentive for states and localities to keep their economies shut down. We should be incentivizing businesses to re-open so people can go to work, make a living, and be able to pay their rent. Instead, this eviction moratorium infringes on property rights so that the cult of fear driving the pandemic response in this country can continue to keep almost every aspect of American life under wraps.
If we are serious about ensuring that America is never a socialist nation and protecting the rule of law, politicians from both sides of the aisle need to forcefully condemn this and take action. Otherwise, we slide a little further down the slippery slope towards socialized rule. That is an outcome our nation cannot afford.