Even amid a global pandemic, the ideologies, thought processes, and motivations of public actors can be explained through theory, particularly framing. We argue that the words and symbols used or not used are vitally important to shaping how the public understands, responds to, and navigates our new normal. Moreover, this framing shapes our collective understanding of who or what is valued. We posit that austerity politics at all levels of government has not only helped to create a patchwork system of crisis response, but also explains the variation in framing of the pandemic response as tradeoffs among competing values (e.g., equity versus economy; us versus other; health versus business). The success or failure of these frames can lead to an environment in which administrative evil flourishes.