[See below for update on how Republicans screwed us … again!]
So the swine flue has hit several places. Every time I see headlines like this across the web, I am reminded of those disaster movies where, in the wake of some apocalypse, the camera always finds dire headlines splashed across yellowed newspapers trapped in rusty newspaper boxes. Will we think of these headlines in the wake of a massive flu epidemic? I doubt it. But here are the headlines anyway, ready-made for Hollywood.
Turns out the Republicans stripped out $900 million in pandemic preparedness!
GOP Know-Nothings Fought Pandemic Preparedness
posted by John Nichols on 04/26/2009 @ 12:50pm
When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year’s emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.
Obey and other advocates for the spending argued, correctly, that a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse — with workers ordered to remain in their homes, workplaces shuttered to avoid the spread of disease, transportation systems grinding to a halt and demand for emergency services and public health interventions skyrocketing. Indeed, they suggested, pandemic preparation was essential to any responsible plan for renewing the U.S. economy.
Now, as the World Health Organization says a deadly swine flu outbreak that apparently began in Mexico but has spread to the United States has the potential to develop into a pandemic, Obey’s attempt to secure the money seems eerily prescient.
And the partisan attacks on his efforts seem not just creepy, but dangerous.
Rove dismissed Obey’s proposals as “disturbing” and “laden with new spending programs.” He said the congressman was peddling a plan based on “deeply flawed assumptions.”
Rove specifically complained that Obey’s proposal included “$462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations.”
This was wrong, the political operative charged, because the health care sector added jobs in 2008.
As bizarre as that criticism may sound — especially now — Rove’s argument was picked up by House and Senate Republicans, who made it an essential message in their attacks on the legislation. Even as Rove and his compatriots argued that a stimulus bill should include initiatives designed to shore-up and maintain any recovery, they consistently, and loudly, objected to spending money to address the potentially devastating economic impact of a major public health emergency.
The attack on pandemic preparation became so central to the GOP strategies that AP reported in February: “Republicans, meanwhile, plan to push for broader and deeper tax cuts, to trim major spending provisions that support Democrats’ longer-term policy goals, and to try to knock out what they consider questionable spending items, such as $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”