So now the federal health bureaucrats in charge of controlling diseases and pandemics want more money to do their jobs. Hmph. Maybe if they hadn't been so busy squandering their massive government subsidies on everything but their core mission, we taxpayers might actually feel a twinge of sympathy.
At $7 billion, the Centers for Disease Control 2014 budget is nearly 200 percent bigger now than it was in 2000. Those evil, stingy Republicans actually approved CDC funding increases in January larger than what President Obama requested.
What are we getting for this ever-increasing amount of money? Answer: A power-hungry busybody brigade of politicized blame-mongers.
Money, money, it's always the money. Yet, while Ebola and enterovirus D68 wreak havoc on our health system, the CDC has been busying itself with an ever-widening array of non-disease control campaigns, like these recent crusades:
—Mandatory motorcycle helmet laws. CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden appoints a 15-member "Community Preventive Services Task Force" to promote pet Nanny State projects. An obscure Obamacare rule — Section 4003(b)(1) — stealthily increased the task force's authority to study "any policies, programs, processes or activities designed to affect or otherwise affecting health at the population level." Last year, the meddling panel extended the agency's reach into transportation safety with a call to impose a federal universal motorcycle helmet law on the country. Is riding a Harley a disease? Why is this the CDC's business?
—Video games and TV violence. At Obama's behest, in the wake of high-profile school shootings, the CDC scored $10 million last year to study violent video games and media images, as well as to assess "existing strategies for preventing gun violence and identifying the most pressing research questions, with the greatest potential public health impact." Whatever that means. Why is this the CDC's business?
—Playground equipment. The CDC's "Injury Centers" (Did you know there are 13 of them?) have crafted a "national action plan" and funded countless studies to prevent boo-boos and accidents on the nation's playgrounds. Apparently, there aren't enough teachers, parents, local school districts, and county and state regulators to police the slides and seesaws. Why is this the CDC's business?
—"Social norming" in the schools. The CDC has funded studies and campaigns "promoting positive community norms" and "safe, stable, nurturing relationships (SSNRs)" in homes and schools. It's the mother of all government values clarifications programs. So bad attitudes are now a disease. Again, I ask: Why is this the CDC's business?
After every public health disaster, CDC bureaucrats play the money card while expanding their regulatory and research reach into anti-gun screeds, anti-smoking propaganda, anti-bullying lessons, gender inequity studies and unlimited behavior modification programs that treat individual vices — personal lifestyle choices — as germs to be eradicated.
Here's a reminder of what the CDC does with money that's supposed to go to real disease control. In 2000, the agency essentially lied to Congress about how it spent up to $7.5 million earmarked each year since 1993 for research on the deadly hantavirus. "Instead, apparently without asking Congress, the CDC spent much of the money on other programs that the agency thought needed the funds more," The Washington Post found. The diversions were impossible to trace because of shoddy CDC bookkeeping practices. The CDC also misspent $22.7 million appropriated for chronic fatigue syndrome and was investigated in 2001 for squandering $13 million on hepatitis C research.
As I pointed out years ago, the CDC has its own private funding pipeline in the form of "Friends of CDC," an Atlanta-based group of deep-pocketed corporations, now including ATT, Costco, General Motors, Google, IBM and Microsoft. To date, the entity has raised some $400 million to support the CDC's work.
Too bad some of those big bucks can't be earmarked to find a cure for bureaucratic obesity and a vaccine for mission creep.