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.
And where are we now? 103 dead in Mexico, and 20 cases popping up almost instantly in the U.S. The entire world is on edge worrying about a global pandemic, and if that comes to fruition, then it will become a massive hit on the already teetering economy.
But stories like this should come as no shock. We saw the exact same thing when Katrina hit. The Republicans believe that the public should be prepared, but the government doesn’t have to do anything. Just like when they said “it was the people’s fault for staying in Louisiana”, and wouldn’t cast any blame on a government that couldn’t be bothered to leave their vacation.
Let me give you a contrast of then and now. After Katrina hit, Bush’s aides worked to keep him away from the television. They finally put together a sampler video of news coverage (mostly of FOX coverage) showing what had happened. This was more than a day after people started drowning. Bush just couldn’t be bothered on one of his multiple vacations.
How is President Obama responding?
President Barack Obama took advantage of the summer weather in Washington on Sunday to play a round of golf.
Before he left for the course, Obama received an update on the swine flu virus, said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.
Obama is getting some time for himself, but still staying in the loop about what is happening.
So we have a Democratic President who is being pro-active in the face of catastrophe, as compared to the Republican President who was reactive at the best. Hopefully people will remember this.