Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 21, 2011

TOO 'BROKE' FOR IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMS?.... Part of the problem with the budget plan approved by House Republicans is that it has too many problems. For critics, it's hard to even know where to start with all the spectacular flaws, and Democrats have struggled -- if they've even tried -- to narrow the focus to a handful of glaring, scandalous GOP decisions.

Should the focus be on cuts to Head Start? How about undercutting job training? And infrastructure? And homeland security? For those opposed to the GOP plan, the number of rhetorical targets makes criticism haphazard.

And that's a shame because each of the remarkable cuts Republicans voted for deserves considerable attention. Suzy Khimm highlights a doozy today, that's gone largely unnoticed. We knew the House GOP targeted the Centers for Disease Control, but it's worth emphasizing what that means for the agency's immunization funding.

In the past year, California has experienced the worst whopping cough outbreak in more than 50 years, an epidemic that has killed 10 infants and resulted in 6,400 reported cases. But even as the state's public health officials have struggled to curb the disease, Republicans in Congress have proposed slashing millions in federal funding for immunization programs. Public health advocates warn that these cuts threaten efforts across the country to prevent and contain infectious and sometimes fatal diseases. And they add that lower vaccination rates could eventually result in more outbreaks that endanger public health at a major cost to taxpayers.

The House GOP's 2011 budget would chop $156 million from the Centers for Disease Control's funding for immunization and respiratory diseases. The GOP reductions are likely to hit the CDC's support for state and local immunization programs, the agency's ability to evaluate which vaccines are working, and its work to educate the public about recommended vaccines for children, teenagers, and other susceptible populations. The CDC especially focuses on serving lower-income families who receive vaccines at state and local health offices and community health clinics, rather than a private doctor's office.

I sometimes get the sense the entire congressional Republican caucus is trying to do an imitation of C. Montgomery Burns.

Also note, we discussed the other day how some GOP spending cuts actually end up costing us more money, and this would very likely fall into the same category.

Health advocates tout vaccines as one of the most cost-effective preventive health strategies, warning that pinching pennies to achieve short-term cost savings could end up costing taxpayers plenty more down the road. [...]

Advocates warn that cutting back on vaccine education and availability could help increase the likelihood of future outbreaks of such diseases -- and reduce the government's ability to respond effectively to contain such outbreaks when they occur. "It's false savings," concludes APHA's Benjamin. While other public health experts argue the impact of such cutbacks might not be immediately apparent, there could be risks down the road if funding for vaccines is undermined. "In the short term, you're not going to see a difference, but [the question is] whether in three to five years, we're going to maintain our high immunization levels," says Dr. William Schaffner, chair of Vanderbilt University's preventive medicine department and an advisor to the CDC.

To date, Democrats have resisted Republican demands for these cuts. For all our sakes, here's hoping it's one of the many parts of the budget fight Dems win.

Postscript: I would assume that GOP leaders would defend these cuts with the same line they always use: "We're broke." But we're not, and if Republicans believe we can afford tax cuts and wars, but not immunizations for low-income children, that's pretty twisted.

Steve Benen 2:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

Plenty of money for missile shots.

No money for children's shots.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your republican Party!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 21, 2011 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but to the GOP POV, it's only poor kids whose parents can't afford the immunizations on their own that are dying. So, really, it's a win-win for them.

Getting tired of sighing,
-Z

Posted by: Zorro on March 21, 2011 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

As someone said (brilliantly!) in a previous post, the poor don't vote, they don't make campaign contributions.

Besides, aren't liberals big fans of Charles (survival of the fittest) Darwin?

Posted by: DAY on March 21, 2011 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

It's "whooping" cough. The name comes from the sound emitted by someone who is infected by the disease makes when coughing, a distinct "whoop" sound.

Posted by: Mike on March 21, 2011 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Since I've been a physician for 67 years I might know a little bit more than basement dwelling liberals about how to deal with public health outbreaks.

First of all the Democrat Party is using scare tactics as usual to strong arm taxpayers into paying for something that has zero to do with the public interest. Secondly if we do have some epidemics because of reduced immunization the people who will be infected first are not voting for Republicans anyway or are illegal immigrants who should not be voting in the first place, but probably are because of ACORN's widespread fake ID-generating enterprise.

A better use of public money is ensuring that these people stay 100 feet away from citizens at all times. It's not like they're contributing to society anyway so there is no good reason they should mind being separated from it.

Posted by: Mlke K on March 21, 2011 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

We're talking about the TPers here, and they are convinced that vaccinations kill kids right and left. They would see this as a plus because now kids won't be dying or becoming autistic because of those awful vaccinations. The vaccination "controversy" is a prime example of how these people are totally faith based in their beliefs and all the evidence in the world to the contrary just reinforces their beliefs. Cognitive dissonance in action is what we have here.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on March 21, 2011 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

67 years! Wow, Mike, you must have been younger than Doogie Howser when your graduated from med school.

1944. I guess you gave a heck of a lot of immunization shots to the boys headed for Europe, and the Pacific, right?

Posted by: DAY on March 21, 2011 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

stupidstupidstupid...when will VOTERS realize that PREVENTATIVE anything is better than waiting...for god's sake, look at the INFRASTRUCTURE. Even if you don't care about PEOPLE, could you care about bridges???

Posted by: SYSPROG on March 21, 2011 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

67 years! Wow, Mike, you must have been younger than Doogie Howser when your graduated from med school.

I was 27, the same age you were when you graduated from high school.

1944. I guess you gave a heck of a lot of immunization shots to the boys headed for Europe, and the Pacific, right?

I had important work to do stateside and unfortunately was not able to participate in the war as did other players who were less critical to the community. I did later join in the Korean War efforts here at home.

Posted by: Mlke K on March 21, 2011 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

But we're not, and if Republicans believe we can afford tax cuts and wars, but not immunizations for low-income children, that's pretty twisted.

Are you kidding? "We can afford tax cuts and wars, but not immunizations for low-income children" has been the Republican Party platform since at least the Reagan Administration.

Posted by: Gregory on March 21, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

110 Tomahawk missiles x $1 M each = $110 Million

Of course, that was only a part of the Libyan war spending on the first day!

Posted by: SadOldVet on March 21, 2011 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Like C. Montgomery Burns? That would be the Koch brothers. The House (and Senate) GOP are more like Smithers. "Excellent!"

Posted by: Werewolf on March 21, 2011 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

re Mlke...

I appreciate your satire!

re SadOldVet...

So what if the estimated cost of Obama's Libyan adventure will be $200-$300 Million a week! We can afford that. All we need to do is to find a few more programs to cut to further reduce the middle class.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on March 21, 2011 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

You'd think someone who managed to pass their medical exams would know that "Democratic" is the adjective, and "Democrat" is the noun.

Stupid, or just a carrier of the wingnut brain-rot?

Posted by: melior on March 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK
....if Republicans believe we can afford tax cuts and wars, but not immunizations for low-income children, that's pretty twisted
.

Wins elections, though. Low-income children don't vote, and they don't cut checks to buy air-time for campaign ads.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 21, 2011 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if 94 year old MikeK really is a physician, he might have heard of Herd Immunity, which is a phenomenon in which widespread vaccination keeps a disease in check even among those who aren't vaccinated or who might have reduced immune response (say, from being in their mid-nineties).

Public Health isn't just about protecting poor people; it's a common good. Contagious diseases don't ask how much money you have before they infect you. You can pick up something from the kitchen or janitorial staff too, even if you are Mr. Burns.

Posted by: jheartney on March 21, 2011 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

melior,
94 year-old Mike K had to live through the rationing in WWII, and now he's on SS, so he's saving the last two letter in 'Democratic" for alphabet soup later.

Poor old codger. Too poor to afford 'ic.'

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 21, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Part of the problem with the budget plan approved by House Republicans is that it has too many problems. For critics, it's hard to even know where to start with all the spectacular flaws, and Democrats have struggled -- if they've even tried -- to narrow the focus to a handful of glaring, scandalous GOP decisions.

Should the focus be on cuts to Head Start? How about undercutting job training? And infrastructure? And homeland security? For those opposed to the GOP plan, the number of rhetorical targets makes criticism haphazard."

Since when did having TOO MANY targets become a problem? Sheesh.

List the total number of cuts and quantify the impacts in a report with graphs that show the real scale of the damage.

Then each day, list one of the more horrible proposals and describe the qualitative impact of that proposal on a large segment of society.

Then show how a miniscule tax increase will cover that impact and how little that impacts the robber barons.

Do that every single day.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 21, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

You can pick up something from the kitchen or janitorial staff too, even if you are Mr. Burns.

I know that, Einstein. When I had household staff, before my whore ex-wives took every dime I had, I made sure they were vaccinated and had them deported at the least sign of a cough. I've been managing risk since you were a twinkle in the eye of the horny guy smoking hashium next to your mom at the Great Dead concert.

Posted by: Mlke K on March 21, 2011 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

My doctor recently recommended that I get an adult DPT shot (diphtheria, pertussis/whooping cough, tetanus), which is a standard childhood inoculation. But they have seen cases of whooping cough crop up in their adult practice within the last year. And this is not a public clinic where you might be more likely to come across this kind of illness.

Posted by: CDW on March 21, 2011 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

texas aggie got it right. Quite a few on the right (and some on the left, too) think vaccinations are dangerous. The local independent bookstore is busy selling a book claiming vaccinations cause autism. They don't have the authoritative one from Columbia University Press showing that's bunk.

Could someone compare, say, Colorado Springs and Portland, Oregon for vaccination rates?

Posted by: Dave Martin on March 21, 2011 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't help corporations, and it doesn't make rich people richer - kill it now!

Stop wasting time wringing your hands over whyohwhy would republicans do something so wasteful and destructive, that hurts so many people and society at large.

They. Don't. Care.

They have a two-branch decision tree: Does it help corporations or make rich people richer? If yes, do it!. If no, kill it!

Simple.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on March 21, 2011 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

10 dead babies? Who gives a flying turd if they've already been born? Proper Christians have likely baptized them and they've moved on to a better place anyway.

Now if a FETUS could catch whooping cough, the GOP would be lockstep with the Dems on this.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 21, 2011 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, The evidence has mounted that these hollow Republican husks, emptied of all human compassion and heart, are working zealously to destroy life in the US as we knew it.

I'm thinking conservatives are the new zombies. Must Eat Brains and all that.

Posted by: Skip on March 21, 2011 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

What is bankrupt is the Republican Party - morally bankrupt!!

Posted by: Sam Simple on March 21, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

What is bankrupt is the Republican Party - morally bankrupt!!

Posted by: Sam Simple on March 21, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

First we cut nutrition programs for the poor, then we stop vaccinating them for infectious diseases. By golly, I do believe the republicans have finally gotten on board for the war on poverty. Next, we need to cut those useless education programs like head start and Big Bird over there on NPR. Wait, we've already done that. Myabe it's time to scale back those pesky minimum wage and child labor laws that are dragging the economy down. Might cause a little suffering, buy you gotta expect a few casualties when you go to war. Onward through the fog, we're headed for the promised where we'll build a shining city on a hill and then wall it off to keep out the slum trash.

Posted by: sparky on March 21, 2011 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, sparky. It's funny, the patterns you don't see until they're pointed out.

Maybe it's just me, but it looks to me that each of these cut initiatives, if adopted, would make the government in power at the time look extremely bad when the forecast effects of the cut kicked in.

Posted by: Mark on March 21, 2011 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

The point isn't that the proposals are creepy and mean, but that (by virtue of being creepy and mean) they have no chance of being enacted. Passing cuts that are certain to fail at the next veto point are a way of being "for" spending cuts without taking responsibility for the privations that would ensue.

Posted by: kth on March 21, 2011 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

If there were truly a God, then the next pandemic would exclusively target the children of Republican voters. You know, the way God targeted the first born children of the Pharaoh and the other slavery-loving Egyptians. Certainly, the Republicans are much closer in both morality and mindset to the Egyptians than the Israelites in any analogy that can be drawn from that tale today.

Posted by: Citizen Alan on March 21, 2011 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Lay off Mlke K; he's just ticked off that his med school buddy, Louis Pasteur, became famous, while Mlke himself failed to jump on the vaccination bandwagon when it mattered.

Posted by: exlibra on March 21, 2011 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Mike K....ROTFLMAO...a run of the mill wingnut troll....

Posted by: lucslawyer on March 21, 2011 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Toowearyforoutrage wrote:

Now if a FETUS could catch whooping cough...

Think rubella. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002541/

They still don't care. They care about the unborn as a wedge issue to incite their base; if they cared abut the unborn as potential human beings, they'd be looking at how to increase access to prenatal care and insuring universal vaccinations.

Posted by: greennotGreen on March 21, 2011 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm old enough to remember when all immunizations were provided for free to EVERYBODY.

No means test. Under the iron rule of Republican/Socialist? Dwight David Eisenhower, we kids were lined up like cattle in public school and inoculated against polio, small pox, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and the like.

There weren't any vaccines in those days against chicken pox and measles, but if there had been, I've no doubt that Dwight David would have thrown us those freebies as well.

It was great shock to my system when, in the '90's, after having my own kids, I found that I was required to pay for their vaccinations. Worse yet, there were no longer any free teeth cleanings in public schools, no free eye exams,
no free hearing tests....

There were not even any school nurses when my kids went off to school.

If Eisenhower were to rise from the dead and see the state of his country, his handiwork, his legacy...surely he would utter a curse and resume
his rest in peace.

Posted by: wobbly on March 21, 2011 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I think it is long past time that we change the frame: it is not the Republican caucus; it is the Republican CIRCUS. How else to describe the buffoons, clowns and charlatans that masquerade as representatives?

Unfortunately, the clowns are leading the national news parade and the political narrative, since the White House absolutely refuses to engage on anything that will help, and be supported by, the vast majority of the American people. I voted for Obama, but I am angry and disappointed that he has a wet noodle where his spine should be (except when he is telling his base to "swallow their anger" and basically calling the progressives nothing but a bunch of "dirty fucking hippies").

It is the Republican CIRCUS...

Posted by: Analytical Liberal on March 21, 2011 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

"...are illegal immigrants who should not be voting in the first place,"

Mike K's posts have GOT to be a parody. No one with any education would believe what he writes. If he were a real doctor, he would know that Mexicans have free vaccinations so that the ones that come here are more likely to be immunized than American kids are. And a doctor in practice for 67 years remembers the polio, measles and mumps epidemics that were so prevalent. Heck, I can remember my grade school being shut down for measles (both kinds), chickenpox, and mumps because fewer than half the kids were well enough to attend. This just does not happen anymore because of vaccination programs.

He also knows that there is absolutely no case of an illegal immigrant voting, and that the hoopla about ACORN was involved with some people registering, not voting, under assumed names (e.g., Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, etc.). For that reason I can assure you that Mike K is not at all serious about what he writes, but in the same frame as therepublicanpointofview, is just parodying the foolishness of republican policy.

On the other hand, if he really does mean what he writes, I can understand why he has multiple failed marriages.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on March 21, 2011 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Just noticed that the person masquerading as MIKE K signs his name as MLKE K. Which just goes to show you that it has to be a parody.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on March 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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