Free Markets, Free People

Operation Blame GOP in Full Force

Swine flu, the topic du jour, was in need of a villain (per the usual MSM narrative), and right on cue, John Nichols delivers in the Nation:

GOP Know-Nothings Fought Pandemic Preparedness

posted by John Nichols on 04/27/2009 @ 08:00am

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.

But former White House political czar Karl Rove and key congressional Republicans — led by Maine Senator Susan Collins — aggressively attacked the notion that there was a connection between pandemic preparation and economic recovery.

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 his partisan attacks on his efforts seem not just creepy, but dangerous.

According to this theory, if not for GOP opposition to one particular line item in the stimulus bill, everything would be perfectly hunky-dory right now. The leftosphere, having received their marching orders, responded dutifully:

Daily Kos: Collins, Republicans, Killed Off Enhanced Pandemic Preparedness

Think Progress: In Attempt To Placate The Right Wing, Collins and Specter Endorsed Pandemic Flu Funding Cut

Christy Hardin Smith: “Pandemic preparedness? Another GOP casualty. Dude, where’s my planning?”

Washington Monthly: GREAT MOMENTS IN POLITICAL INSIGHT (“On Feb. 5, the same as Collins unfortunate remarks, Karl Rove had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal complaining about stimulus package, in part because it included money for ‘pandemic flu preparations.’

Sometimes, these folks just don’t think ahead.”)

It’s hard to know where to begin with this sort of nonsense. Competing for most ridiculous premise is the idea that a couple of remarks from Susan Collins and Karl Rove (who does not vote in Congress) were able to back off the entire Democratic Party. You know, the ones who control the House and Senate? I mean, how spineless do you have to be if you control the House, the Senate, and the White House, but you can’t stand up to one little old lady from Maine and a former politico? Pretty wimpy I’d say.

We’re also apparently expected to believe that pandemic flu was a big issue during the days of stimulus debate, instead of the impending financial collapse unless Congress did something (anything!). My recollection of those heady days in January and February conjures up much back-and-forth about whether the bill would save jobs, but nothing about whether we should do more to prevent a flu pandemic. Come to think of it, isn’t that why it was called the “stimulus bill” in the first place, as in to stimulate the economy? And wasn’t there a bunch of hullabaloo about so much pork being in the bill? Yes, I’m sure I read about that somewhere. Indeed, even Chuck Schumer was calling appropriations for pandemic preparations “porky”:

He [Chuck Schumer] said the compromise hammered out between Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans – which has enough support to get it past any threat of a filibuster – was far better than that passed by the House on Jan. 29.

All those little porky things that the House put in, the money for the [National] Mall or the sexually transmitted diseases or the flu pandemic, they’re all out,” Schumer said.

Clearly, beefing up the federal government’s response to a flu outbreak was not the priority during the stimulus debate.

The “GOP did it” analysis also seems to suffer from that problem of time beginning on the day Obama was elected. It’s further complicated by the fact that, even if Obey’s appropriation had been included in the stimulus bill, it wouldn’t have the government in any better of a position than it is now (a fact which the legislators seem to understand since they had exempted Obey’s provision from the requirements that the money appropriated be used within 30 to 90 days (i.e. section 1103)). Regardless, the idea that the money appropriated less than two months ago would save our bacon today is unrealistic at best.

But doesn’t that just beg the question: what preparations have been made for a flu pandemic? Seeing as it’s so frightfully important that we are ready and eager to blame an entire political party for potential ill health, why is it that we’re only hearing about it now? What took Congress so long? Well, nothing actually:

What’s scarier in Washington, the prospect of a flu virus that could kill millions or the possibility that voters will toss out any politician who fails to prepare the nation for such a disaster? A pandemic could be a true global catastrophe, of course. But along the Potomac the second threat is also very real. That’s a big reason why both the White House and Congress are rushing to boost America’s capacity to produce vaccines and drugs against flu and other diseases.

On Oct. 18 the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee hurriedly passed a bill that would offer vaccine makers new liability protections and incentives for research. And the Administration is about to issue a flu pandemic plan expected to be extremely aggressive. “There is a sense of urgency on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue,” says Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).

That would be an article from October 2005 when the “White House” referred to President Bush, and “Congress” referred to the Republican controlled body. Seems like the Republicans were worried about a flu outbreak after all. How worried? Enough to spend gobs of money on it which, although comparatively paltry in these post-bailout days, completely dwarfs the proposal from Rep. Obey:

In 2004, Congress approved Project BioShield, a plan that would spend $5.6 billion over 10 years to jump-start production of vaccines and drugs to counter bioterror threats.

Again, that would be a GOP-controlled Congress. Of course, the GOP hasn’t always been in control. Many will recall that the Democrats swept into power in 2006. This was heralded as the harbinger of great change, and the first wave of the Democratic majority. What fun! Seeing as how important legislating against a flu pandemic is to the Democrats, surely they did something to improve upon the meager sum approved under the reign of the hated Republicans:

The fiscal 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act working its way through Congress this week allocates only $76 million for pandemic influenza preparedness funding for the Health and Human Services Department, though the Bush administration requested a budget of $870 million for it.

The bill also chopped in half requested funding for the HHS office managing efforts to develop a national electronic health record system.

While House and Senate appropriations committees said they continue to support HHS pandemic flu preparation efforts, they indicated in the bill that they decided to cut the 2008 pandemic preparation budget because approximately $1.2 billion remains available from funds provided in previous appropriations.

Oops … I wonder how much of that $76 million is still left? It kinda makes you think that preventing and/or preparing for a flu pandemic wasn’t really such a big priority for the Dems, now doesn’t it? Yet somehow, in the heat of the debate over whether it was a good idea to mortgage the future of a few generations of Americans, it’s Susan Collins’ and the GOP’s fault that a swine flu outbreak has occurred, and the federal government may not be prepared for it. Yeah, that makes sense.

Well, I guess we should just chalk it all up to another crisis that Rahm doesn’t want to go to waste. Nothing like the good ole game of playing politics with people’s fears of becoming deathly ill. Not that any of the leftosphere would ever approve of such tactics, seeing as how moral and sanctimonious they seem to get. [/eyeroll]

MORE: I wonder which would be more effective in dealing with the swine flu outbreak — appropriating hundreds of millions more dollars on pandemic preparations, or staffing the HHS that would be in charge of actually spending the money? I know how John Nichols and the Nation (and, therefore, the leftosphere) would answer. For them, this must just be an inconvenient distraction:

The Obama administration declared a “public health emergency” Sunday to confront the swine flu — but is heading into its first medical outbreak without a secretary of Health and Human Services or appointees in any of the department’s 19 key posts.

President Barack Obama has not yet chosen a surgeon general or the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His choice to run the Food and Drug Administration awaits confirmation.

Smoothest transition EVAH!

EVEN MORE: I’m guessing that the fact-checkers at the Nation have been sacked:

(1) It’s a good point to make that Collins somehow thought pandemic preparation money was not an economic issue deserving of inclusion in the stimulus package. But Collins was for the money being included in some other form. Now, I think her reasoning is stupid — pandemic prevention is part of a recovery plan. But it’s not like she was against the very idea of it.

In fact she has voted for a number of bills that included pandemic prevention in the past, including the war funding bill of 2007. This undermines her point about which basket the funding is in, but also proves that she’s not against the idea of it.

(2) Relatedly, this money is actually the tail end of money ($7.1 billion worth) that President George W. Bush pushed for in 2005. So this is actually Bush money! To pin all this on the GOP is, thus, a little silly.


(4) Importantly, the vast majority of the pandemic prevention money was passed in March’s omnibus bill, which passed the Senate by (uncounted) voice vote.

And that’s from a Kosmonaut [via: MM].

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31 Responses to Operation Blame GOP in Full Force

  • If you’ve ever asked yourself where the Leftist media would go after it had moved from sensationalism to hysteria, you have your answer: pornography.

    Because that’s what this really boils down to.

  • This strain of flu is not any different than any other type. The only difference is the media is whipping the story and disease out of proportion to its’ real effect.  Many American die of the flu every year, especially those who already have serious illiness. But this event show the power of mass hysteria the media can afflict of the television viewing population. This is the federal government at its’ finest and most expensive.

    Danny L. McDaniel
    Lafayette, Indiana

    • “Never let a good crisis go to waste”   – we will learn to hate that phrase long before this is over.  And if there is a God, we will get an opportunity to punish the man who said it.

    • Nice, Danny. How many have to die, and where, before this meets your standard of “not business as usual”?

      • So, if that’s how you feel, where’s your support of mandatory rails and non-slip surfaces in tubs and showers.  PEOPLE ARE DYING DAILY!!!

      • Dog, in Danny’s defense, look at the numbers:

        Mexico, a country of 110 million people, is reporting 1600 cases.  The US, with about 300 million people, has fewer than 100 cases right now.

        People get the flu every year; some die from it, but the overwhelming majority survive it.  This isn’t a pandemic yet.  I’m not saying ignore it, but let’s put it into perspective.  This isn’t a major threat, despite its constant appearance in the news.

  • “There’s also $4 billion for health programs like obesity control and smoking cessation, $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations.”

    …Karl Rove

    Spin, spin, spin all you want.

    • From the same Rove Op-Ed:

      Since December 2007, Americans lost 791,000 jobs in manufacturing, 681,000 jobs in professional and business services, 632,000 jobs in construction, 522,000 jobs in retail, 167,000 jobs in hospitality, and 576,000 jobs in the rest of the service industry. It would be logical for policy makers to focus on job creation in these sectors.

      Here’s the sentence concluding your excerpt:

      Health care also added jobs last year.

      And did you miss the fact that Collins and other GOP members voiced support for $905 million in pandemic prevention funds?

      In December 2008, Collins, along with several of her Republican and Democratic colleagues, signed a letter in support of a $905 million increase for the public health and social service emergency fund, which was sent to Senate leadership.

      “These additional funds are needed to enhance the nation’s preparedness against a bioterrorist event or an influenza pandemic,” said the letter.

      That’s in addition to the fact that the Bush administration and GOP Congress did pass a bill spending $5.6 billion over 10 years for this exact same thing, and Bush even asked for more but was rebuffed by the Democrats (see post above).

      Who’s spinning?

  • Susan Collins is neither old nor little. 

    But yeah, trying to make this political or to place blame on the GOP is ridiculous.   Both sides do this sort of thing though…

  • Salvo 2 on from the ‘put the Republicans back on the Defensive’ Strategy. 

  • As if we needed yet more proof that the left doesn’t really care about the country.

    Here’s the inconvenient fact that the GOP needs to hammer home day in and day out:

    Obama and the Dems are in TOTAL charge.

    Whatever happens is on them.  If they wanted flu funding, we would have it.  At least they can’t blame Bush for this one.

    Just make sure the public know this. The rest will come in time.

  • I know now! Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh are responsible for the swine flu epidemic/pandemic!

    Yeah! That’s the ticket!

    • It’s George Bush’s FAULT!

      He dynamited the levies in New Orleans, and he sent a secret time release capsule to Mexico where  coincident with 100 days of Obama presidency it would release in an attempt to make the anointed one look bad.

      But the Dems KNOW the truth, the TRUTH IS OUT THERE!

  • The Nation was out-fact-checked by Daily Kos?

    In a way that defended Republicans from a spurious allegation?

    This is going to drive me to drink.

  • It’s articles / arguments like this that reinforce my belief that, to be a liberal, one must be a total f***ing moron and / or a pathological liar.


  • I’m glad Obama is putting to good use that $7.1 Billion worth of  Tamiflu that GWB stockpiled…

    …aaaaaaaand since our New Glorious Leader is in the habit of talking about everything he “inherited” from Bush, no doubt due credit will be forthcoming since he’s such a nice Messiah and all…

  • Hey wingers, want to guess what happens when you lose a bunch of elections? You wind up in the minority, and then life gets fair. Ain’t karma a bitch, though? Now there’s accountability, and you freaks just hate it. Ha ha ha!

    • So, this is just a game to you?  “Fair” only applies among honorable people; otherwise it’s a nonsensical term  harboring no relevance.

      BTW, there’s nothing magic about being able to lick yourself.

    • Yeah, well, YOU’RE in charge now magic turkey, get fixin and stop whinin about how the party that doesn’t have control ‘stopped’ you.

      YOU’RE the one who’s now accountable.  Ain’t karma a bitch, though?

  • This is a public service announcement: Magic Dog is a major troll who showed up on protein wisdom about a week ago. Treat his Leftard frothings accordingly.

  • Thirty-three years ago, President Gerald Ford’s quick response to swine flu didn’t go well. More people died from the innoculations than from the disease.

  • I wonder how the left will blame the GOP for Lightworker’s PR staff wasting taxpayer money while they terrorize NYC just so they can have a pretty picture for their web site

    • I am sure that HIS line-by-line scrutiny of the budget will discover and stop the wasteful expenditure of who knows how much money spent on photo ops for AF 1. I admit to being mystified why photos involving national monuments must be ‘updated’. I know that Mt. Rushore is probably in the process of having a new head there, but I didn’t know the Statue of Liberty had changed lately. Did she finally get tired and switch hands?

  • Here’s a google mashup of swine flu for anyone that’s interested.

  • Thanks for setting the record straight.

  • Mad Dog reminds me of the fat slob you see and hear at every bar. The guy whose has an answer for everything and knows nothing. The one that often confuses arrogants for intelligence, which is the definition of a fat slob.