Republican Senator Susan Collins went along with Karl Rove and cut or eliminated funding from the stimulus package for pandemic influenza spending. While Democratic Congressman Obey was able to restore $50 million for infection reporting, all state and local funding was eliminated. Nicely done, ‘moderate’ Senator Collins (italics mine):
Did Rove, Collins and their compatriots want a pandemic?
Of course not.
They were just playing politics, in the exceptionally narrow and irresponsible manner that characterized the Republican response to the stimulus debate – and that, because of Democratic compromises in the Senate, dumbed down the plan President Obama ultimately signed.
No serious player in Washington has been unaware of the fears with regard to a flu pandemic. They have been well-publicized and well-discussed. Even Collins admitted as she objected to the House allocation for preparedness: “I think that everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu.”
And it is important to point out that no serious player in Washington could have been unaware of the threat that a pandemic — or even the fear of one — would pose to economic renewal. Every discussion about a pandemic begins with the public health component but moves quickly to an acknowledgement that an outbreak, and the ensuing quarantines, would bring economic activity to a virtual standstill.
So Rove, Collins and those who echoed their know-nothing appeals understood that they were wrong.
But they bet that they would be able to score their political points without any consequences.
Now that fears of a pandemic have been raised, however, it is appropriate to ask whether individuals who are so manifestly irresponsible and partisan should be taken seriously.
This is an especially important concern with regard to Collins, who portrays herself as a moderate who tries to make things work in Washington.
This is cynicism of the lowest order. Who gives a damn how this gets funded? Should it have been its own special bill? If it’s worth doing, get it done. Isn’t that what the ‘moderates’ supposedly pride themselves on?
While the ‘dumb or evil’ arguments get tired, Collins managed to combine dumb and evil into a giant Reese’s peanut butter cup of suck.