The GOP and Swine Flu

There are now 40 confirmed cases of the Swine Flu in the U.S. and more than 1600 cases in Mexico. Concern over the outbreak has “cast a shadow over the struggling global economy,” as the spread of Swine Flu “could harm trade and tourism and undermine businesses just as they begin to rally.”

John Nichols notes in The Nation today:

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.

Maine Senator Susan Collins and other key Congressional Republicans “aggressively attacked the notion that there was a connection between pandemic preparation and economic recovery.” Watch the video of Collins on pandemic funds:

Now, Nichols says, “Obey’s attempt to secure the money seems eerily prescient.” Of course Collins and her co-horts could easily say, “who knew we’d have a potential pandemic outbreak, so soon?” But hey that was just the point of adding those funds to the stimulus package. So now as cases of the Swine Flu spread and stocks drop due the panic, we can thank Senator Collins and friends for all they did (NOT) to help America be prepared for something like this.

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