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.Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine led the charge against the pandemic preparedness funding, which was eventually stripped from the Senate version of the stimulus plan, and even brags about the coup on her website. Huzzah. The Senate-House reconciled version of the plan provides only $50 million "for improving information systems at the Department of Health and Human Services," but "state and local governments, and the emergency services that would necessarily be on the frontlines in any effort to contain a pandemic, got nothing."
…[Karl Rove] specifically complained that Obey's proposal included "$462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations." … Rove's argument was picked up by House and Senate Republicans, who made it an essential message in their attacks on the legislation. Even as Rove and his compatriots argued that a stimulus bill should include initiatives designed to shore-up and maintain any recovery, they consistently, and loudly, objected to spending money to address the potentially devastating economic impact of a major public health emergency.
The attack on pandemic preparation became so central to the GOP strategies that AP reported in February: "Republicans, meanwhile, plan to push for broader and deeper tax cuts, to trim major spending provisions that support Democrats' longer-term policy goals, and to try to knock out what they consider questionable spending items, such as $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases."
I think everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu. But does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill? No, we should not.This little piggy says, "A-choo!"
From the Wayback Machine: Donald Rumsfeld is a major stockholder in Tamiflu.