There are levels of hypocrisy that threaten to drag a scream from anyone paying the least bit of attention. Then there are levels of hypocrisy that threaten lives. Four months after President Obama requested funding to fight the looming threat of Zika, Republicans are working hard—not to address the crisis, but to milk it for any possible political advantage.
The feud on Capitol Hill over responding to the rapidly spreading Zika virus would seem to be largely a fight over how much money is needed to fight the mosquito-borne scourge.
But lurking just beneath the surface are issues that have long stirred partisan mistrust, including Republicans’ fears about the use of taxpayer money for abortion and possible increased use of contraception, and Democratic worries about protecting the environment from potentially dangerous pesticides.
Public health officials warn that the virus will not stop to check party affiliation — the mosquitoes that carry it bite Republicans and Democrats alike.
No. Wrong. And David Herszenhorn at the New York Times, this mentions you by name because of Just How Wrong It Is. Dammit. This blatant example of “both sides do it,” when both sides are so not doing it, is going to cost lives. This is not a damn game, and it’s not time to play some silly “we must always find a reason to share the blame” show of journalistic spinelessness. Stop it. Just stop it.
First, Republicans are not fearful that Zika funding will be used to fund abortions, because the law already prohibits that use. That’s just nonsense. What Republicans are doing is looking for angles by which they can make it appear that Democrats are trying to use this funding to support abortion. They know it’s not possible. You know it’s not possible. Stop pretending this is a real concern and not a talking point. If Republicans were actually concerned about unborn children, they’d be worried about the 157 pregnant women already known to be infected with Zika in the United States. They’d be worried about the children already being born with microcephaly in Puerto Rico. But they’re not.
Second, the bill that passed in the House is not a bill to fund the fight against Zika. It is a bill to remove EPA supervision of pesticide spraying that had already been floating around the House for a decade. This isn’t a “Democrats say” issue, it’s a fact available to anyone who does something as radical as taking five minutes to look at the bill. The bill doesn’t address the issue, doesn’t allocate any new funds for Zika, and will do exactly nothing because it doesn’t even resemble the Zika funding bill that passed in the Senate. There is no possible way for a conference committee to make a compromise. Democrats didn’t screw this up. The Republicans did. On purpose. And still are.
At this point, Republicans aren’t just failing to address Zika, they’re actively abetting the crisis. Stop helping them by pretending otherwise.