The GOP has cut about $600 million in funds for the Center for Disease Control since 2010, but Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) thinks the real disease is political correctness. The Republicans in Congress did however, ultimately approve $88 million in funding to fight the Ebola virus requested by the White House.
With regards to President Obama sending 3,000 troops to Africa to head off the Ebola virus the Congressman told Fox News that, “The military is not trained to go catch Ebola and die,” and that, “political correctness is going to get people killed in all of these areas.”
The President ordered the troops to help end the spread of the disease by opening 17 treatment facilities mostly concentrated in the impoverished country of Liberia. There the US military will lead a command center and international relief efforts training up to 500 Liberian health workers a week.
President Obama contends there is no imminent threat to America from Ebola and that any cases that arise could be isolated quickly, but Gohmert says the answer is to end travel between the US and African countries where the disease is prevalent. The rightwing media has even exploited the epidemic to suggest that “Ebola people” could be sneaking across the southern border even though the CDC says there is no evidence that is happening.
“We could have Ebola people coming across the border right now.” – Laura Ingraham
The CDC did warn back in 2013 that the cuts levied by sequestration would prompt a, “reduced ability to ensure global disease protection.” Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-California) suggested that the budget cuts were shortsighted and harmful in the effort to control such outbreaks. He said, “These kinds of situations expose the fact that we’ve been cutting way too much in areas that aren’t as visible and it’s until things like this happen that we start to realize that we shouldn’t have cut those things, and I blame that a lot on my Republican colleagues,” he said.
- “They constantly just grind down and grind down and grind down to make it look like we can’t move forward unless we make these cuts and $50 million here, $500 million there to a county our size and a country that most of the world is depending on to show them how to get things done right – it’s those kinds of cuts that start to expose themselves when we have situations like this,”
He says the answer lies in properly educating the public and ensuring health officials are prepared to deal with any cases that might arise in the US. One such case has surfaced in Dallas, Texas where a Liberian national who was visiting family had not been properly quarantined. The hospital contended that they had not known the man had traveled from Liberia due to a flaw in their electronic records that did not immediately show his travel history. The hospital had sent the man home and it was later discovered that he had been in contact with up to 100 people. Several close family members are being asked to stay at home until mid October and a few schools attended by the children saw increased absences based on fears by their parents.
The President of Liberia criticized the man who left the country after coming into contact with the disease calling it, “unpardonable.” She told the Canadian public news CBC. “With the U.S. doing so much to help us fight Ebola, and again one of our compatriots didn’t take due care, and so, he’s gone there and … put some Americans in a state of fear, and put them at some risk, and so I feel very saddened by that and very angry with him, to tell you the truth.”
The worst symptoms most Americans will experience from Ebola is fear and it is unfortunately that a lot of that anxiety will come from our own elected officials. For the most part parties on all sides of the epidemic are doing what they can to bring the situation under control, and the least our members of Congress can do is listen to our health professionals and fund the necessary agencies that will ensure America’s preparedness.
Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.