The Nation is sort of like the Minnesota Progressive Project for people who graduated from college; higher-sounding rhetoric, same ol’ Kool-aid-sotted invincible ignorance wrapped around centrally-mandated spin masquerading-as-commentary.
John Nichols follows the Rahm Emanuel commandment and doesn’t let a crisis go to waste; he’s writing about Republican opposition to vaguely-healthcare-related pork spending proposals in reference to the incoming Swine Flu pandemic:
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.
And with good reason: none of that $900M would have generated a Swine Flu vaccine from the clear blue sky.
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 to be fair to the Republicans involved, everything in the Porkulus was supposed to be about “renewing” the economy, from “healthcare” spending to building new bike paths.
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.
No, it makes John Nichols look like a weasel, trying to turn a porkalanche proposal into phony clairvoyance…
…without, let the record show, showing how any of the $900 million dollars would have addressed this possible pandemic.
As Don Surber notes (via Malkin), this is a head-fake to cover the fact that the Administration hasn’t done anything to staff the key policy positions in the Surgeon General’s office, including those directly dealing with pandemics.
“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,” Politico reported.
So while Obama dithers, and fails to take care of those parts of his job that directly impinge on dealing with pandemics, and sends his Homeland Security director (in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which would have a role in dealing with a truly major epidemic, serving as the arms and legs and muscle of the Centers for Disease Control) on politically-motivated witchhunts against political opposition, the Administration is responding by sending it’s trained alt-media monkeys on rhetorical purges against Karl Rove, and – I love this – answering questions from the press:
Notably, the second question at the White House press conference on the emergency had to do with the potential impact on the economic recovery.
On Monday, the question began to be answered, as Associated
Yeah, John Nichols; that’s pretty “notable”; as per usual with the Obama administration, soothing words for the press and slime-attacks against dissenters are supposed to substitute for doing the job.
Nichols even has to resort to “the dog ate my homework”:
The Republicans essentially succeeded. The Senate version of the stimulus plan included no money whatsoever for pandemic preparedness.
It’s a misleading, inflammatory lie; porkulus included no new money, but there was already money in the budget, and now that there is an actual emergency there will no doubt be plenty more found.
But notice, if you will, the underlying message; even though the Dems have complete, unfettered control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, they couldn’t pass it, and are scurrying for cover by blaming Republicans; more later.
Not only is it an inflammatory lie, it’s a stupid one:
In the conference committee that reconciled the House and Senate plans, Obey and his allies succeeded in securing $50 million for improving information systems at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
As if long lead-time items like “Improved Information Systems” would have made a difference in the weeks that have passed.
You’re doing a fine job, there, Janet-y.