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Hullabaloo


Thursday, May 19, 2016

 
Babies aren't partisans

by digby

A wall at the border won't stop this. Just saying.



















Nowadays, it's hard to shock me when it comes to Republican villainy, but they've got me with this one. I find this to be unbelievable:

The man who led the successful White House response to the Ebola outbreak says the Zika virus is a slow-motion public health disaster — and Congress is to blame.


Ron Klain, who served as White House Ebola czar and as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, told POLITICO's “Pulse Check” podcast that Congress has failed to heed the lessons of the Ebola epidemic and that the Zika funding battle has become unforgivably partisan in the face of such dire human costs, including severe brain defects in infants.

“The babies being born are neither Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “They're babies.”

The House’s patchwork $622 million funding plan is especially “irresponsible,” said Klain. That Republican-backed bill would fund Zika research partly by taking money previously appropriated to fight Ebola. “They’re fighting over a difference of money that the Pentagon spends every eight hours,” said Klain, who now works as a venture capitalist. “In the context of Washington, this is relatively small sums.”

The White House in February requested $1.9 billion to fight the Zika virus, which is spreading quickly through the Americas. Three months later, Congress is still debating that, with competing packages in the Senate and House, and the possibility that Zika funding might stay unresolved until a July conference committee — well into the summer mosquito season.

More than 1,200 U.S. residents have already been infected with the virus, including more than 100 pregnant women. All of the domestic cases of Zika — about 500 in the states and 700 in the territories — are travel-associated, but public health experts expect that to change in the coming months. Most people have mild symptoms, if any, but researchers are probing whether the virus can cause severe neurological problems in some cases. And it can be devastating to babies.

Klain said he doesn’t understand why securing Zika funding has become a political battle. He’s especially unhappy over some Republicans’ insistence that no new money be devoted to research and prevention, that all of it has to come from another health program.

The House on Wednesday night voted along mostly party lines to approve its funding package — one-third of the White House’s original request and which repurposes funds being used to fight Ebola and other infectious diseases around the world.

“This is as crazy as saying we’re going to take a fire hydrant out of the ground in one place and move it some place else to fight a different fire,” Klain said. “To rip money away from [Ebola] to fight Zika is about as irresponsible as you can get.”"

Public health officials say the leftover Ebola funds have been promised to set up health systems in West Africa and to guard against a potential resurgence of the disease. For instance, Liberia’s Ebola outbreak was declared over in May 2015 — but there have been at least three Ebola deaths in the country since then.

Between insufficient preventive efforts and the natural cycle of an outbreak, Klain predicts that local transmission of Zika virus inside the continental United States — potentially in the Gulf Coast, Southeast or other mosquito-rich regions — looms within the next few weeks.

And looking ahead, he foresees a public health catastrophe that will begin with the first wave of U.S. infants born with microcephaly and other severe brain defects.

“We are going to see … the birth of babies who will suffer a horrible impairment for the rest of their lives,” he said. “However long or short those lives are.”

This is where they're pinching pennies. A public health crisis in the making in which babies are going to be born with unusually small heads and terrible disabilities if they manage to live at all. A public health crisis that could be averted or at least mitigated with strong and decisive action.

They are monsters.

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