Tuesday, October 21, 2014

So, the Republicans decreased funding for the CDC’s Ebola research

Commentary by James Shott

An ad produced and being run by the Agenda Project Action Fund says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding has been cut by $585 million since 2010 and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) saw its budget cut by $446 million. Interspersed along the way are brief visuals of various Republicans who at some time in their public life uttered the word “cut,” and have had that split-second of their life included in this ad: “cut,” “cut,” “cut,” “cut.”

And then the CDC director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, is shown saying that there are disease outbreaks that his agency is not able to act against “as effectively as we should be able to.” And finally disturbing images of Ebola sufferers appear, followed by the words “Republican cuts kill” just prior to advising people to “Vote.”

We can forgive Dr. Frieden for ending a sentence with a preposition, which is at worst a minor slip-up, but we cannot forgive the Agenda Project for flagrantly lying that Republicans – or anyone – cut funding for the CDC and the NIH, preventing them from developing a vaccine for Ebola.

For verification of that assertion we look to one of the most liberal of voices, The Washington Post. It gave the ad its gold seal: Four Pinocchios, which the Post categorizes as “Whoppers.”

The Post story explains “For NIH, since 2006, there has been relatively little change in the size of the budget, going from about $28.5 billion in 2006 to $30.14 billion in 2014. … (The agency also received a $10 billion windfall in 2009 from the stimulus law.)”

“As for the CDC,” the Post continues, “you will see a similar pattern. The numbers have bounced around $6.5 billion in recent years. (CDC receives both an appropriation from Congress and, since 2010, hundreds of millions of dollars from the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the Affordable Care Act.) Before 2008, the agency received less than $6 billion a year. In fiscal year 2013, the White House proposed a cut in CDC’s funding, but Congress added about $700 million. In 2014, the administration again proposed reducing the budget, but Congress boosted it to $6.9 billion.” In case you aren’t aware, the House of Representatives is under control of Republicans, and has been since 2010.

However, even if the CDC and NIH budgets had been cut, every manager in the public sector is obligated to spend the available funds in the smartest and most beneficial way; put whatever funds you have where they are most needed, and if necessary seek authorization to do so.

How well did the managers of these agencies do with the billions of taxpayer dollars they have at their disposal? The NIH thought that studying the sex life of fruit flies at a cost of $1 million took precedence over Ebola. Likewise, spending $1.5 million studying why lesbians have a tendency to be overweight, while gay men don’t was more important than an Ebola vaccine. As was spending $688,000 to determine why people watch “Seinfeld” reruns and $355,000 on a study of how quickly husbands and wives calm down after an argument.

For its part, the CDC’s mission statement says in part, “Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.” In support of that lofty goal, the CDC used some of its billions studying seat-belt use and infant car seats, built a second finely appointed visitor center in Atlanta to the tune of $106 million, spent $10 million more on furniture for the new building, and helped Hollywood devise medical plots to the tune of $1.7 million. And of the more than $3 billion CDC received from the Affordable Care Act to research dangerous diseases, it has spent only $180 million on that project, but not on Ebola.

And after asking Congress for extra funding in 1999 for a syphilis project, and receiving double the amount of funding it requested, the CDC responded by hiring porn stars and strippers to speak at public events, all the while the number of reported syphilis cases had doubled by 2005. Oh, and the CDC spent $25 million of our money on bonuses for employees over recent years.

Both agencies spent millions to study that mysterious bacterial infection, “gun violence.”

If you want to know why the CDC doesn’t have a vaccine for Ebola and why it hasn’t prepared the nation’s hospitals to handle people infected with the Ebola virus, you probably ought to look to the party whose backside the Agenda Project is trying so desperately to cover, the one that was elected to run the government efficiently. Incidentally, Republicans are not in charge of the CDC or the NIH.

With an important mid-term election two weeks away, the message at the end of this sleazy ad to vote should be heeded. However, voters should remember dishonest ads like this one that attempt to cover up the gross incompetence in administrative agencies, along with the other scandals that still exist, but that the mainstream media has kept below the radar.

Cross-posted from Observations

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