A second case of Ebola has been confirmed in Dallas, Texas. Somehow, despite medical training and top-of-the-line protective gear, one of the nurses who treated the first patient has contracted the terrible disease. The increasingly overwhelmed head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Tom Frieden, mumbled something about a “protocol breach,” although no one is saying what protocol got breached, or indeed what the “protocols” are.
This is not the response expected from their multi-trillion-dollar super-government by the American people, especially not for a highly-publicized problem everyone could see coming from 5,700 miles away (give or take whatever diversions might add to the precise total of air miles from Monrovia, Liberia to Dallas, Texas.) But it’s exactly what every student of the Ineptocracy was expecting, and so is the next step taken by liberals to defend the shabby performance of the Leviathan they love. Overnight, in unison, as though a switch had been thrown on their messaging machine, the Left stopped saying that Ebola is a nothingburger blown out of proportion by the rubes in flyover country… and started telling the dupes in their voting base that Ebola is a horrifying crisis caused by Republican budget cuts.
Here’s an ad created by a “progressive” group called The Agenda Project (at least their name is honest!) attempting to hold just about every Republican in the land responsible for cutting funds to the CDC and National Institutes of Health:
Here’s a contribution from a host at the long-running cable news satire called “MSNBC,” which somehow runs 24 hours a day – not bad for a parody network, although the effort they put into creating this elaborate send-up of dim-bulb left-wing media bias doesn’t seem to be paying off with ratings:
To the anti-government wingers in my thread: so far, the only “spread of Ebola” in the U.S. was caused by a private hospital in a red state.
??? Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 12, 2014
And it’s not just nutjob progressive groups or loony cable-TV hosts spreading this nonsense; last week, Hillary Clinton also blamed the Left’s all-purpose failure demon, the sequestration “cuts” (actually mild reductions in the rates of spending growth) from the 2011 Budget Control Act for any problems that might arise in the government’s response to Ebola. “They’re working heroically, but they don’t have the resources they used to have,” Mrs. Clinton sniffed.
Thus is the one and only example of spending restraint from the hilariously misnamed “Budget Control Act” – a tiny tap on the spending brakes, which has since been largely rescinded – blamed for every blunder of the $3.5 trillion super-sized government worshiped by the Left as the best doctor, investor, builder, business manager, charity, and employer in human history. Every dollar the State does not receive is the one dollar that causes the whole damn operation to unravel. The sort of actual, honest-to-God spending cut that most private-sector businesses deal with on a regular basis would reduce Washington to rubble. And if people like Hillary Clinton are going to keep blaming sequestration for everything, should we pause for a refresher course on the history of that ill-fated bit of automated fiscal restraint, and remember exactly whose idea it was? (Hint: his initials are “BHO,” and the reason he came up with the idea was to terrorize Republicans into accepting tax increases by threatening them with mandatory cuts to defense spending. That would be the same “BHO” who is currently losing a war in the Middle East against a threat he refused to see until it was far too late.)
In truth, the CDC and NIH are swimming in money, just like every other appendage of this ridiculously overpriced, painfully mis-managed government. Like every other agency, they fritter away their money on silly distractions and naked attempts to extend their power. They put more effort into “mission creep” than their actual mission. When confronted with a crisis that exposes an inability to handle core functions, the agency curls into a defensive crouch and begins whining that it’s under-funded. If that works – and until now, it often has – the result is growth through failure. Instead of being torn to bits by enraged taxpayers, the agency gets more money than ever before, and promptly begins wasting it on robot-squirrel studies (to cite one of the more memorable examples of madcap spending from Senator Tom Coburn’s epic “Wastebook” series.)
The NIH makes an appearance in the most recent edition of the Wastebook, for spending $325,525 on a study to determine if marriages are happier when angry wives calm down quickly. The answer, you will be shocked to learn, is “yes,” although the Wastebook archly advises, “Regardless, men who want a happy marriage are probably wise to avoid telling their wives the government’s advice to resolving marital conflicts is for her to calm down.”
The 2014 edition of the Wastebook hasn’t been released yet, but it’s a fair bet that the NIH’s $1.5 million study of “biological and social factors” to determine why lesbians tend toward obesity more than homosexual males will make the cut.
Although it’s getting a bit long in the tooth, Senator Coburn produced a report in 2007 entitled “CDC Off Center,” which detailed “how an agency tasked with fighting and preventing disease has spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars for failed prevention efforts, international junkets, and lavish facilities, but cannot demonstrate it is controlling disease.” An update in this 7-year-old report to reflect the current status of some programs it criticized would be welcome, but much of it remains completely valid. I’m pretty sure the $106 million Thomas R. Harkin Global Communications and Visitor Center is still there, as is the $109.8 million Arlen Specter Headquarters and Emergency Operations Center with its $10 million in furniture.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, responding to Hillary Clinton’s attempt to blame sequestration for Ebola, adds another example of managerial ineptitude in an article at Politico Magazine that notes much of the CDC’s funding has been “diverted away from programs that can fight infectious diseases, and toward programs far afield from CDC’s original purpose.”
Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent???$180 million???of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency???s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that ???detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats??? warrants a larger funding commitment.
Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money???$517.3 million over the same five-year period.
The CDC???s website makes clear the objectives of community transformation grants. The program funds neighborhood interventions like ???increasing access to healthy foods by supporting local farmers and developing neighborhood grocery stores,??? or ???promoting improvements in sidewalks and street lighting to make it safe and easy for people to walk and ride bikes.??? Bike lanes and farmer???s markets may indeed help a community???but they would do little to combat dangerous diseases like Ebola, SARS or anthrax.
Jindal notes that these might be worthy projects, but not only are they diverting funds away from what most Americans think the CDC ought to be doing, they represent the sort of “non-essential priorities” that a federal government with $18 trillion in accumulated debt should not be spending money on. I would add that this kind of agency mission creep is the reason we have so much redundant spending, a topic that frequently comes up in Senator Coburn’s Wastebook. It’s not uncommon to see a dozen different agencies running entirely separate programs to cover the same problem or perceived social need. I don’t suppose we’d have to look very hard to find other federal programs addressing “access to healthy foods,” support for neighborhood grocery stores, or improvements in sidewalks and street lighting.
Also, the CDC does not exist in a vacuum. This bloated government wastes oceans of cash on a broad spectrum of indulgences, luxuries, handouts to cronies, and bonuses to top bureaucrats. Any or all of that money could be directed to the Centers for Disease Control. We don’t have an under-funded government. We have a bad government. It’s managed by people – from President Obama on down – who treat their most serious duties and responsibilities with disdain, while pouring our money into endeavors that yield increased power, political rewards, or personal comfort.
The Ineptocracy is designed to reward that kind of behavior, or at least ensure no one is aware of it… until a major crisis hits, and suddenly the masters of the State claim to be flat broke. The house is on fire, but there aren’t any fire extinguishers in the emergency boxes. The plane is going down, but there aren’t any parachutes. The ship just hit an iceberg, but there aren’t any lifeboats. Sorry, folks, we spent all the money for those things on perks, benefits, and building bureaucratic monuments named after the senators who sponsored them. We could have squeezed a couple of fire extinguishers, parachutes, and lifeboats into the budget after we passed out this year’s lavish bonuses (and paid for a first-class hotel in Vegas to host the Bonus Check Distribution and Back-Patting Extravaganza – you don’t expect us to stuff five-figure checks into a six-figure administrator’s in-box without a ceremony, do you?) but… darn it, those hateful penny-pinching Republicans wouldn’t give us the extra money we requested to do our actual jobs!
This new “blame Republicans for Ebola” drive is just a slight variation on the normal procedure in Washington. Usually they respond to threats of fiscal restraint by screaming that the first dollar of budget cuts means cops, teachers, and first responders will get pink slips, while the princes of the bureaucracy remain safely ensconced in their luxurious fortresses. Remember all this the next time you hear a huckster like Obama peddle some “balanced approach” where he promises to reduce the deficit with a combination of tax increases today, followed by spending cuts in the dim future. On the off chance those spending cuts actually happen, they’ll be blamed for every subsequent government failure… just like the only tiny speck of budget control in the Budget Control Act of 2011 will be blamed for every federal fumble for the next 20 years.
As for the matter at hand, Fox News reports considerable pushback against the “protocol breach” excuse for the second Ebola case, which some say is tantamount to blaming the victim:
Some say the case shows how many hospitals are inadequately trained to handle the virus, which has killed more than 4,000 people during the latest outbreak in West Africa.
“You don’t scapegoat and blame when you have a disease outbreak,” Bonnie Castillo of National Nurses United told Reuters on Sunday. “We have a system failure. That is what we have to correct.”
“We haven’t provided [caregivers] with a national training program. We haven’t provided them with the necessary experts that have actually worked in hospitals with Ebola,” said Dr. Gavin McGregor-Skinner of Penn State University, an expert in public health preparedness.
Separately, some have raised concerns that no single person or agency is in charge of the U.S. response.
You liberals are seriously going to try blaming that on sequestration? The CDC couldn’t even manage a national training program for the great new health crisis of the decade, but they had plenty of money to study angry wives. The kind of management needed to coordinate this response isn’t a question of money anyway – it’s a question of leadership. You know, the thing President Obama fakes by spending 45 seconds holding a phone and looking concerned about Ebola before he jets off to shoot his two hundredth round of golf.