The DCCC launched paid online ads today hitting House Republicans for voting to cut the Centers for Disease Control’s budget, which goes to fighting epidemics like Ebola, while protecting tax breaks for special interests.
The House Republican budget cut funding for the CDC, our country’s first line of defense against the spread of diseases like Ebola, while protecting tax breaks for big oil, the ultra-wealthy and companies that ship jobs overseas. These flawed priorities have real and dangerous consequences—as the head of the National Institutes for Health detailed Sunday, saying that: “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
“House Republicans’ priorities aren’t just out-of-touch, they’re dangerous – and in their fervor to protect special interests’ tax breaks, Republicans even used their first budget vote to cut funding for the CDC that protects us from epidemics like Ebola,” said DCCC Chairman Steve Israel. “Few issues better illustrate House Republicans’ out-of-whack priorities than their determination to protect special interest tax breaks, even when they come at the expense of our ability to fight the spread of diseases like Ebola – that’s why the DCCC is launching a national paid online effort to hold Republicans accountable for their dangerously misguided priorities.”
Since the West Africa Ebola outbreak grabbed the public’s attention, Republicans have had the political field to themselves. They have largely lumped imagery of the rampaging virus with other frightening video clips of Islamic State fighters, illegal border crossings and terrorism to perpetuate a sense of dread ahead of the Nov. 4 midterms.
The liberal response has just begun. Democrats are noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has had its budgets cut by $585 million since 2010. The National Institutes of Health have not had real budget increases since 2003, before across-the-board “sequestration” cuts siphoned off $446 million.
[The] ad is pretty low-rent. But it does appear that Democrats/liberals are at least toying with the idea of hitting Republicans for voting to cut funding to things like NIH and CDC.
As we’ve noted before, though, Americans at this point are actually pretty unconcerned that Ebola will have an impact on them directly. It’s a really buzz-worthy news story, but it’s not clear that it’s a huge voting issue for many folks right now. Pryor, for instance, hasn’t gone back to the well on Ebola, and probably won’t after what happened last week.
That could certainly start to change if the disease starts to spread more quickly. But we’re just three weeks before the 2014 election, and right now this feels like a trial balloon.
The National Institutes of Health’s budget for the past decade has been stagnant. In today’s dollars, it’s lost 23 percent of its funds due to inflation. But the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the NIH that has been working on a vaccine since 2001, has seen its funding decline even more. In fact, Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, told the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein that the NIH would have a vaccine by now if the agency had not seen these budget cuts. It is testing a vaccine right now, but on monkeys, and it could be be years before it is ready. Collins says a full-scale “dream” vaccine development would be to test two different vaccines, being developed in Canada and America, with 30,000 people. Those are resources the NIH just doesn’t have. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,” Collins said.
This isn’t a new warning, by the way. But the same Republicans now calling for a czar have opposed restored funding for the NIH. “I support the NIH’s core responsibility of basic research, but believe it should stop the frivolous, politically motivated, and wasteful grants it has been funding,” Kingston, who is chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of the NIH’s budget, wrote to Collins last year. “On behalf of the American taxpayer, my committee will continue strict oversight of the NIH budget and encourage Dr. Collins to work with us on spending tax dollars effectively and appropriately.”
In January, that allegedly miserly and cruel and callous GOP-controlled House also approved a budget that increased CDC’s budget by a lot:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will see an 8.2 percent budget increase for fiscal 2014, thanks to a $1.1 trillion spending bill announced by Congress Jan. 13.
“This influx of cash will raise the CDC budget to $6.9 billion, which is $567 million more than it received in 2013. This is more than the agency anticipated, because the president’s fiscal year 2014 budget request for it was just $6.6 billion — a decrease of $270 million from fiscal 2012.”
It’s a defensive ad that reeks of desperation. At a time when more and more Americans, including millennials, are concluding government just doesn’t work, it probably won’t be effective. And Republicans can respond in kind.
For example, instead of studying Ebola, the National Institutes of Health were studying the propensity of lesbians to be fat.
Then there was the money for a study on wives who calm down quickly.
And the Centers for Disease Control spent its budget on gun violence studies on order of the President as part of his agenda to curtail the second amendment.
Meanwhile, other Democratic Party voices are saying calm down, we know how to control outbreaks, and fear is unhelpful, a problem in itself. The cynical among us assume that politicos tell us to fear when they think they can manipulate our fear to serve their interests. With this new ad, the Agenda Project shows it believes it can work fear effectively, so it invites panic. But it’s stepping all over the dominant message from the President’s party, which is anti-fear. This fear/don’t fear message is confusing. It’s like: Don’t fear, but if you do fear, blame Republicans for whatever is scaring you. And yet, if confusing people were thought to be a good move, it would be made, would it not? The lofty voices in the party say don’t fear, we know how to handle this, and we are diligently on duty, while the fringe groups crank out viral paranoia.
This morning RedState received an email from the group responsible for this reprehensible ad. In the email Erica Payne, the President of Agenda Project Action Fund – which I will get to in a moment, lays out her team’s strategy to win the election through fear mongering…
Back in August the Weekly Standard called out Payne for encouraging people to go out and deface Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) book as it hit the shelves.Payne’s new improved version of Paul’s book cover featured the conservative congressman pushing a grandmother in a wheelchair, assumedly off a cliff.
Of course this sort of behavior should be considered par for the course for someone who was the Deputy National Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee in 1996 and went on to co-found the Democracy Alliance.
Beyond the generally stable [CDC] funding levels over the past five years, note the uptick between 2013 and 2014, especially in the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The proposed 2015 request is lower than 2014’s but again this figure is coming from the president’s budget plan.
Then there’s the National Institutes of Health (NIH), whose role in developing new medicines and interventions has been supposedly destroyed by cuts over the years, right? According to its budget documents, the NIH got about $23 billion in fiscal 2002 (George W. Bush’s first budget year), a figure that rose to $30.2 billion in 2009 (his last budget year) before peaking at $31 billion in 2010. It dipped a bit from then and came to $30.1 billion in 2014, which is about the same amount the NIH requested in President Obama’s 2015 budget plan.
You can argue that the United States needs to be constantly and massively increasing its spending on everything and that every time spending doesn’t go up in a lockstep fashion (and faster than inflation, as it did throughout the Bush years) that you’re killing people. You can also argue that the topline budget figures for various agencies don’t matter, but then you’re really talking about the ways in which bureaucracies, especially in the budget sector, misallocate resources. The one thing you really can’t do is say that the federal government, which is not actually controlled by the Republicans (just saying), has been slashing its spending on anything.