Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bush bird-flu plan: it’s your problem, not mine

Should we have ever expected anything else from the “buck stops anywhere but here” administration?

The White House released its plan for handling an influenza pandemic yesterday, and here’s what they’ve decided:

The impact of a severe pandemic may be more comparable to that of war or a widespread economic crisis than a hurricane, earthquake, or act of terrorism. The center of gravity of the pandemic response will be in communities [and] the support the federal government can guarantee to any state, tribe or community will be limited.

Or, as the Washington Post put it:

[The plan] acknowledges that the federal government cannot—and should not try—to fully manage the response to an event that is likely to start overseas, eventually take hold in even the smallest U.S. communities, and last for months.

Should not try? Really? Granted, some health professionals have called this basically appropriate, and I know I would so very much rather have the World Health Organization coordinating a response to a pandemic, rather than the Bush Administration, but doesn’t this just feel like a total cop-out?

And, if not a cop-out, than certainly this is the mother of all unfunded mandates.

Sure enough, no sooner do I think this, than the New York Times updates its online article to include this:

State and local health officials said they welcomed the federal government's latest plan for dealing with a pandemic flu outbreak, but some complained that the Bush administration had failed to provide the money needed to pay for the plan's long list of recommendations.

So, what do you think—do you think the Bush Administration and the rubber-stamp Republican Congress are going to pony up the funds necessary for implementation of this “plan?” Don’t hold your breath.

Or, on second thought, do. That’s probably the best plan a lot of us will have.


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