Swine Flu Is Bad Enough, Yet Republicans Always Manage To Make It Worse

As I often tell myself, there is rarely any situation in which the attentions of the Republican party can't make it even worse. Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest points out one major problem:

We face a potential swine flu pandemic, and we do not have the people in place in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that we need. Why not? The Republicans are blocking confirmation of Obama’s nominee, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Why are they blocking this nomination? Because Gov. Sebelius won’t approve Kansas Republican bills to block abortion even if the abortion will save the mother’s life. They say she is “an enemy of the unborn,” because she thinks doctors should be able to save the mother’s life.

So as you worry about this possible flu pandemic, think about why your government is not yet fully up and running to do its part and protect us. As we saw when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, government-hating Republicans destroyed our ability to respond to emergencies, and instead set up a system where contracts were awarded to cronies who collected the cash but never delivered the services. And now they continue to block our government’s ability to protect us, because they think that a mother’s life is not as important as a fetus.

The Democrats should start a big public relations push to get the Republicans to drop their opposition for the sake of the country.

It might work, but who knows? After all, Republicans always put party above country. Because guess what the Republicans (including "moderate" Susan Collins, helped along by Karl Rove's attacks) stripped out of the stimulus bill? You guessed it: pandemic flu preparedness! (They insisted it had nothing to do with the economy.) From John Nichols in today's The Nation:

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 -- 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.

And the partisan attacks on his efforts seem not just creepy, but dangerous.

Go read the article. It's an in-depth look at how scoring political points was more important to the Republicans than repairing the system of government preparedness stripped bare by the last eight years of their careful stewardship.

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