CDC Cuts and Why Fallacies About Money Matter

Once again, the CDC, an organization which is already overcommitted and underfunded, is under the budgetary gun (boldface mine)

The proposed cut would come from the part of the agency’s budget that is controlled by Congress and pays for the core operations of the CDC, based in Atlanta, Georgia. These include grants to local, county and state public-health departments to monitor infectious diseases or track food-borne outbreaks. Core funding is also used to maintain the Strategic National Stockpile, a repository of drugs reserved for fighting epidemics and bioterrorism. If Obama’s plan is enacted, the CDC’s congressionally controlled funding will have fallen by roughly 20% since 2010 — a decline that “looks like a disaster waiting to happen”, says Scott Becker, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Cuts to the CDC have already contributed to the loss of nearly 50,000 jobs in state and local health departments since 2008….A proposed $47-million cut to the Strategic National Stockpile “is a lot more than just efficiency. It’s going to cut capability as well,” says Crystal Franco, an associate with the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC in Baltimore, Maryland. “We are reaching the tipping point where preparedness efforts are going to be reversed because of the lack of funding,” she adds.

And we can forget about trying to anticipate and prevent new problems before they start:

The second source of funds to offset CDC cuts — $903 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) — could be even less secure. Established by the 2010 health-reform law, the multibillion-dollar fund is aimed at disease prevention but has become an object of disdain for those opposed to the law. In the current atmosphere of fiscal constraint, the PPHF has become a target for raiding, and already, as part of a payroll-tax-cut extension that was signed into law by Obama on 22 February, Congress has cut the fund by 20%, or $250 million, in 2013, and by a total of $6.25 billion to 2025.

The PPHF is supposed to be used to launch new initiatives, not plug the leaking dyke.

There’s a reason why I keep writing about how we misunderstand how a fiat currency works: because it leads to idiotic budget cuts. Since the CDC cutbacks have already led to 50,000 direct layoffs, it’s pretty clear that we don’t have a shortage of epidemiologists, so we’re not going to get any inflation in that sector or any misallocation of resources (although what would be wrong with people choosing to make other people healthy? Just asking). Besides, I haven’t heard about the Great Epidemiologist Glut of 2007, have you? And you can’t ‘go broke’ when you issue your own currency. So just spend the fucking money–we can make more.

Ordinarily, I would end with “This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things”, but, actually, this is a reason why people will get sick and die.

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