That’s Midas, spelled backwards. And Republicans certainly seem to have the exact opposite of the Midas touch. Take pandemic flu, for example.
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.
Now, as the World Health Organization says a deadly swine flu outbreak that apparently began in Mexico but has spread to the United States has the potential to develop into a pandemic, Obey’s attempt to secure the money seems eerily prescient.
Back in February, when Susan Collins, and her so-called centrist Republican senator buddies, and maverick Democrat idiots like Ben Nelson, decided that the economic recovery bill could only be passed after making some arbitrary cuts for political appearances (entirely without reference to the merits of the proposed expenditures), they duly excised the money proposed for pandemic flu preparedness.
Before the excision, Collins was articulate about her incredulity at the foolishness of the proposal:
There is funding to help improve our preparedness for a pandemic flu. … What does that have to do with an economic stimulus package?
Afterwards, she crowed about it:
And these decisions are difficult. For example, I think everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu. Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill? No, we should not. So, after discussion, we agreed that we would cut the funding for that, knowing that we can deal with that issue later.
Stand by to watch Collins dealing with the issue now.