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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, April 27, 2009

Panning Pandemic Preparedness = Poor PR Planning

by folkbum

Your Republican Party has some 'splaining to do:
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. [. . .]

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."

Famously, Maine Senator Susan Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: "Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill No, we should not."

Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate's version of the stimulus measure.
With luck and some hard work by public health officials (not to mention lots of hand washing--I want to see suds, people!), the current Swine Flu outbreak will not become pandemic, as 3rd Way fears it might. However, as John Nichols points out in the piece quoted above, the effect of precautions or recovery from an outbreak may well be to slow economic recovery in parts of the country--something that a boost in spending months ago might have prevented.

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