We Were Warned

And the Trump administration has gone further—not only underfunding these efforts but also proposing steep spending cuts year after year to institutions, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that are tasked with handling outbreaks. Congress has resisted these efforts in the bills Trump has ultimately signed, but the president’s requests have nevertheless spoken to his priorities. His budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, released in February when the coronavirus outbreak had already reached the United States, called for the CDC’s overall funding to be slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars. The administration did suggest more resources for certain subsets of the CDC’s work relevant to the current crisis. Each of those increases, however, is less than the Trump administration devoted in its 2021 budget proposal to counter Chinese and Russian propaganda and disinformation, and a small fraction of the additional $459 million the administration wished to pour into offensive hypersonic weapons. (But what’s $459 million when you’re spending billions on them already?)”

Medicynical note: Read the entire piece, it’s a good summary.

Denial is part of some disease processes. But in this case the denial was manifested by our lack of preparation for a inevitable event. The U.S. Government, once a force in world health over the years minimized, to itself, the risk of a serious outbreak. We decimated our resources through ignorance and budget cuts and lost influence in the world over several presidential administrations. Neither party is without blame but the republicans have taken the lead in both congress and the executive branches, in gutting expertise.

I’m unsure whether a democratic administration would have resulted in fewer deaths. But at least if they were running the show their would have been fewer and perhaps more clever falsehoods and certainly more reliance on science.

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