Republicans Ridiculed Pendemic Preparedness As Part Of Stimulus Bill
Wisconsin Democrat David Obey, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, argued that if a pandemic hit in the middle of a recession, it could have far-reaching consequences.
…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 Obey and Democrats who supported this idea were mocked by Republicans who saw only more spending, and not the link between an economic downtown and health concerns. The swine flu outbreak is not yet a pandemic, and will hopefully be contained. But 100 people have been killed by the outbreak and dozens of Americans are ill because of it. And there is an economic component.
On Monday…the Associated Press reported — under the headline: “World Markets Struck By Swine Flu Fears” — that: “World stock markets fell Monday as investors worried that a deadly outbreak of swine flu in Mexico could go global and derail any global economic recovery.”
Before U.S. markets opened, the Wall Street Journal reported: “U.S. stock futures fell sharply Monday as the outbreak of deadly swine flu stoked fears that a possible recovery in the global economy could be derailed.”
Karl Rove referred to Obey’s proposal as “disturbing.”
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.
And Maine Senator Susan Collins brags on her website that she led the fight to get money to deal with a possible pandemic out of the stimulus bill. Of course, it’s not that Republicans wanted some kind of disease outbreak; but they did want to score political points. And they didn’t see the correlation between a bad economy and what additional havoc a health concern could create.
COLLINS: There’s funding to help improve our preparedness for a pandemic flu. There is funding to help improve cyber security. What does that have to do with an economic stimulus package? [CNN, 1/31/09]
COLLINS: I think everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu. But does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill? No. We should not. [MSNBC, 2/5/09]
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2009 Liberaland