Feds fail in fighting Ebola


First Posted: 10/16/2014

I have penned it many times on these pages. Government has but one legitimate function: Protect its citizens.

As I have also penned many times on these pages, government is so distracted by the things it shouldn’t be doing that it often fails at that one legitimate function.

The latest demonstration of this truism is the Ebola virus outbreak.

Clearly, the federal government was unprepared to deal with this crisis.

With the cases we have seen to date, it is obvious the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped the ball. There were no protocols in place to deal with it. Training of health care workers appears to have been nonexistent.

This should surprise no one given the decline of this nation during the last couple of decades. There was a time when we would, at the very least, be confident the people we hired to protect us would be prepared to do so if need be.

Now our government officials behave in an oddly bumbling fashion, from the president on down. I’m sure by now most of you have seen the photograph of the unprotected man with a clipboard standing around Ebola patient Amber Joy Vinson while everyone else was wearing protective gear.

That Vinson was allowed to travel to Cleveland and that federal procedures for Ebola treatment were not implemented in Dallas are more examples of the government’s failure.

President Barack Obama’s reaction is most puzzling. Faced with the potential disaster of history’s worst Ebola breakout becoming a runaway epidemic on our own shores, does he restrict travel to and from the affected nations? No. He sends troops.

That’s right. The president, the smartest man in the room according to the loony left, sends soldiers overseas to the infected areas. If that does not show his utter contempt for the military, I don’t know what does.

Then, just last week, the administration finally announced it was creating Ebola “SWAT teams” that would swarm hospitals on reports of an Ebola patient. Why the CDC did not have such teams in place months ago at the beginning of the Ebola outbreak is unclear, beyond simple incompetence.

Obama also appointed an Ebola czar (a liberal political hack who has no experience with infectious disease or, indeed, any medical background at all), because what we need is another czar.

Americans should be questioning why the CDC was not prepared. The CDC budget has nearly doubled since 2000 from $3.5 billion to $6.8 billion (in 2014 constant dollars).

What have CDC officials been spending the money on?

Instead of spending the money on things in line with the agency’s mission of protecting Americans from health threats, it has wasted it on studying seat-belt use, infant car seats, and obesity. Additionally, Obama has had the agency push for gun control.

Regardless of what you think about these things, they are not really in line with the CDC’s own stated mission of protecting Americans from infectious disease.

Another example of the misplaced priorities of the CDC under Obama is the agency’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was part of Obamacare. Of the $3 billion collected for the fund during the last five years, only about 6 percent of that went toward epidemiology, lab capacity, or programs to fight infectious diseases. The rest has been used for everything from installing streetlights and improving sidewalks to promoting breastfeeding. Again, not really in line with the CDC’s mission.

For Obama and Democrats, the Ebola crisis could not have come at a worse time. In a poll released last week, Obama’s approval rating was a record low of 40 percent. The approval rating for Democrats generally was down to 39 percent, the worst it has been since 1984.

The Democrats, of course, have spent their time trying to blame Republicans. Some have even blamed President George W. Bush for the lack of a vaccine, claiming one would have been developed by now if not for budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health.

Yet, somehow, the NIH found $1.5 million to study why lesbians have a tendency to be overweight while gay men don’t.

Perhaps the real problem is one of distractions and misplaced priorities rather than minuscule spending cuts.