Flint, GOP, GOPocrisy — May 17, 2016 at 5:38 pm

On Flint and Zika, Republicans are determined to do less than the least you possibly should do



If you follow this blog as closely as you should, you know it’s been more than 229 days since “Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has known about the poisoning of Flint’s drinking water with lead.” Furthermore you know that “During that time, ZERO lead water lines have been removed through the efforts of his administration.”

Eclectablog’s publisher Chris Savage updates this counter daily as a reminder of the stunning ineptitude that has followed the stunning ineptitude of Rick Snyder’s appointed Emergency Manager’s decision to change Flint’s water source, leading to the lead poisoning of the city.

Well over half a year too late, we’re finally getting some indication that the state may do the least it should possibly do.

“Will the state of Michigan pay to replace Flint’s lead water pipes?” MIRSnews.com asked on Monday. “When it’s all said and done, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said the answer is yes.”

That would mean lawmakers need to “make $200 to $300 million in negative adjustments to the Fiscal Year 2017 budget after Tuesday’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference,” according to Mitch Bean of Great Lakes Economic Consulting. And those cuts will have to come from somewhere else in the budget, likely somewhere benefits the most vulnerable people in the state.

So they may do the least they should possibly do and make us pay for it.

A similar theme is being explored in our nation’s capitol where Republicans are supposed to be finally getting around to passing some funding to fight Zika virus, which if contracted likely due to a mosquito bite during pregnancy can “cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects,” according to the CDC.

But it’s too little, likely too late.

Don’t trust me on this, trust real American hero Ronald Klain.

Mr. Klain was last seen on the national stage as the “Ebola Czar.” You may remember Ebola, the disease that Republicans conveniently insisted was going to kill us all right before the 2014 election. It has been defeated at its source, after far too many deaths though not one that was result of a case contracted in the United States. This historic success happened in large part thanks to an international effort led by the Obama Administration with initial leadership by Ronald Klain.

Congress was originally going to fund the fight with $1.1 billion, one third of what the White House asked for, while cutting funds for other infectious diseases. Klain called this “a new low even for this Congress.”

Now, it appears Congress won’t even pass that meager amount until this summer.

“Sure, maybe the mosquitoes will just wait,” Klain said.

This slow-motion stroll to an avoidable catastrophe has caused the difficult-to-disappoint-any-further independent analyst Norm Ornstein to sincerely ask if this is this the worst Congress ever?

Here’s his case:

There are very legitimate arguments about the appropriate role and scope of the federal government. But few except nihilists and the most extreme libertarians would argue that protecting public safety in the face of catastrophe or epidemic should be off the government’s books or sharply constrained in scope. And right now, there are three such examples: the horrible Flint water debacle, a man-made (mostly state government-made) disaster; the Zika crisis, a classic disease epidemic; and the opioid crisis. All are crying out for a sharp and focused response from the federal government. In Flint, the excruciatingly slow response at all levels has left city residents still without reliably safe water supplies, while children and others face health horrors like enduring brain damage. With Zika, as Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health testified, the potential for a major expansion of the virus, leading to health problems and many children born with microcephaly, along with incidents of Guillaume-Barre disease and other terrible maladies, is palpable. The opiod crisis has resulted in widespread debilitating addiction and many deaths from heroin and painkillers. Congress’s response last month? Go on recess without dealing with them.

But it’s not just Congress. It’s not just Michigan. It’s not just Kansas or Louisiana. Or Texas where 6 million go uninsured while Republicans fret over bathrooms.

It’s a mentality that says we need to do less than the least we can possibly do for those who need it the most. At best, it represents a sincere belief that the vulnerable need to be taught a lesson more severe than the pangs of brutality of everyday poverty. At worst, it’s a cynical ploy to make things bad enough so Democrats get now benefit from advancements of the Obama Administration, which they have to pretend do not exist. Either way, the costs are real and the indifference is staggering.

[Photo by the great Anne Savage.]