By Doug Steinhardt
The United States is waking up to the national security risk that is American dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals. New Jersey, meanwhile, is uniquely situated to be a national problem solver. At one time, our pharmaceutical footing was without rival. Today, foreign powers have usurped our role. When we finally turn the corner from this viral pandemic, and we will, our Governor and legislature can make a real difference in our economic security and the security of every American family.
To be clear, Covid-19 is the Chinese Chernobyl. 50,000 people worldwide have died. The White House estimates that as many as 240,000 Americans may die. We must be comfortable diagnosing the problem that is the Communist Party of China and exposing its efforts to cover up just how deadly this virus is.
The CPC has been a bad actor on the world stage for years, but in 2020, it has cost countless lives. It was widely reported that U.S. intelligence officers briefed the White House on the CPC’s deliberately deceptive and incomplete reporting of coronavirus infections. These fake numbers influenced every nation’s response to the virus and, as a result, left us all vulnerable. We cannot leave our fate in the CPC’s hands.
According to reports, Chinese pharmaceutical companies now supply as much as 90 percent of active ingredients in U.S. antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen and hydrocortisone. They used sweatshop labor and stole trade secrets to hijack our pharmaceutical industry. As a result, we are now largely dependent on China for our own health and wellbeing. This vulnerability is laid bare by the current world crisis.
Fortunately, there are some in the federal government and others in private industry who see the CPC specter and want to stop it. Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio each have legislation pending to help end our dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals. And, just last week, Johnson and Johnson announced that it is setting up new manufacturing capabilities inside the U.S.
While China may be the world’s factory, New Jersey is world’s medicine chest. According to BioNJ, we are home to more than 300 biotechnology companies and 20 pharmaceutical and medical technology firms. In fact, 17 of the world’s top 20 companies have facilities here. Our concentration of assets offers extraordinary opportunities for joint ventures, recruiting and research. Our challenge is to capitalize on them.
New Jersey has the infrastructure and brainpower to immediately take on greater pharmaceutical output. We have a patriotic duty to make that happen. What we need are leaders willing to act.
Governor Phil Murphy and the members of the State legislature must recognize the Garden State’s potential for pharmaceutical companies and take decisive steps to bring those jobs home. Step one is to take immediate action to improve our business climate and lower our tax rates. Employers and employees are fleeing for more affordable regions, so we must send a strong signal to them that they have a long-term, sustainable future here.
Next, we should consider a short-term tax holiday that rewards any critical healthcare function willing to move its operation from China to New Jersey. Because there are 49 other U.S. states competing for similar opportunities, if New Jersey wants to start dating these companies, we must make ourselves more attractive.
Finally, let’s ensure that not one cent of our tax dollars goes to CPC owned or influenced pharmaceutical companies. Billions of tax dollars from our State’s pension system are invested around the world, and there is no shortage of good companies in which to invest them. Lead right and divest ourselves completely from Chinese pharmaceuticals.
The coronavirus pandemic has inspired people all over to come together. I haven’t felt such a strong sense of community since 9/11. People are looking for opportunities to help their neighbors and honor those who are sacrificing and serving. New Jersey has a momentous opportunity in front of it to do all of that. Let’s start planning now for the future, and we need big, bold moves to make it happen.
DOUG STEINHARDT is chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party (NJGOP).