Hey, remember during the negotiations over the stimulus bill, when those prudent Senate Republicans extorted Obama to indulge their budgetary fetishes but still championed preparedness for an influenza pandemic?
No, of course you don't, because the Gang of Three Republicans, with support from their Democratic abettors, killed a House-backed proposal to enhance pandemic preparedness.
Do you want to know who to blame for the US not being optimally prepared for an influenza pandemic? Start with Republican Senator from Maine Susan Collins:
"Everybody in the room is concerned about a pandemic flu, but does it belong in this bill? Should we have 870 million dollars in this bill? No, we should not."
As The Nation's John Nichols points out, not only did Collins kill off the $900 million pandemic preparedness proposal--a budgetary execution called for by that well-regarded public health expert Karl Rove--Collins even brags on her Senate website about blocking passage of the pandemic preparedness initiative.
But Collins said she was concerned about pandemic preparedness. So, one might assume, she's been using her bully pulpit as the ranking member on the Homeland Security committee to rally support for pandemic preparedness, right? Surely a Google News search of "Susan Collins" + pandemic will turn up lots of articles and press releases, right?
For the folks back home, she sent out a press release touting money she secured for Maine for homeland security efforts, including--yup, you guessed it--"to deal with looming threats such as a pandemic disease."
And that's it. Nothing else.
I guess she walked out of that room where everybody was concerned about pandemic flu, and never bothered to return.
Thanks a hell of a lot, Senator Collins. How great for everyone that you ignored the advice of public health and pandemic flu experts, but that you made Karl Rove happy. If lives are lost that could have been saved, money spent that would have been saved had there been proper investment in preparedness, if there's economic and social damage due to a pandemic that could have been better prevented or contained had we spent money wisely ahead of time, we'll know who to "thank."
For additional discussion, see LieparDestin's recommended diary.