Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, April 27, 2009 8:52 pm

An epidemic … of idiocy

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 8:52 pm
Tags: ,

Looks like that swine-flu outbreak that has spread from Mexico to some parts of the U.S. could be a real problem. It also looks like some people who should have known better have left us more vulnerable to it than we needed to be:

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. …

But can a flu pandemic really have economic consequences?

Uh, duh:

On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that a national “public health emergency” had been declared. 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 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.”

And whom do we have to thank for this happy state of affairs? Primarily, Karl Rove and Maine Senator Susan Collins, a “moderate” Republican. More broadly, every Republican senator and representative who jumped on this part of the stimulus package as being somehow unrelated to economic recovery. Collins even brags about her role on her Senate Web site. And Senate Democrats tolerated this behavior, even knowing that the need was real, instead of acting like grownups and doing the hard work of protecting the country.

There’s a pattern here. Remember Bobby Jindal’s ridiculing the need for federal money for volcano monitoring? How’s that workin’ out for ya, Bobby?

UPDATE: Shorter Michael Steele: I don’t understand what “preparedness” means.

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2 Comments

  1. As I stand over here on the left side of the GOP, I am happy to see Arlen Spector finally go. It won’t help matters in the Senate, but he’s been an embarrassment to the party for too long.

    While hog farmers typically shower and change clothes before entering and leaving, the sewage effluent escapes untreated. Also, it is common practice to mix a portion of the manure in with new feed, as it still contains carbs and protein. As feed costs rise, you can imagine this growing in prevalence.

    Comment by Fec — Tuesday, April 28, 2009 3:59 pm @ 3:59 pm

  2. That party switch won’t affect much, if anything, in the Senate for now. All the “60th vote!” hype I’ve seen is just that, meaningless hype.

    But Specter had better hope a real Democrat doesn’t run against him in that primary.

    Comment by Lex — Tuesday, April 28, 2009 4:05 pm @ 4:05 pm


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