During a television interview months ago, Republican Ken Buck discussed the need for public-private partnerships while talking about how the federal government is inefficient.
Now, less than a month before the election, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s campaign is criticizing what it calls Buck’s suggestion to privatize the Centers for Disease Control.
During a March appearance on the Aaron Harber TV show, which airs on Denver PBS station KBDI, Buck discussed how wasteful and inefficient the federal government is and said, “I don’t believe that the federal government runs anything more efficiently than the private sector.
“We can run a really good war once in a while, but we … do not run anything more efficiently than the private sector.”
Harber then asked about privatizing the National Science Foundation. Buck replied it would be better to have industry work with the science foundation rather than have the government run it alone.
“How about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?” Harber asked.
“Absolutely, again, partnering with private foundations, private hospitals, states and local governments, far more efficient than … having the federal government run something. [...]“
[...] Karl Moeller, executive director of the Campaign for Public Health, said the CDC needs to remain a federal agency.
“There are certain roles for government and excellent ways the private sector can support disease control and prevention, but controlling disease outbreaks and assessing health risk and determining whether heart disease is spreading … or on the decline is really not something the private sector can ever really do,” Moeller said.
Providing for the common defense against the spread of chronic and infectious diseases is “basically a government role,” Moeller said.
But the basic function of the CDC is to coordinate all of that and to control and track diseases and identify new ones, he said.
“You are doing away with the public health service,” which has been around since the rise of smallpox, he said. “What’s going to take its place? If nothing is going to take its place, we’re going to have massive West Nile outbreaks and no system to distribute the flu vaccine.”
On Friday, the CDC in Atlanta declined comment on the issue.
In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a request made by Bennet and Sen. Mark Udall to include money in the 2011 budget to protect the Fort Collins CDC lab from drastic budget cuts that could have eliminated 100 jobs.
[Rep. Betsy] Markey has taken the lead in the House of Representatives to restore CDC funding, but the House has yet to take action on the issue.
The CDC Division of Vector-Borne Diseases lab, or DVBD, on Colorado State University’s Foothills Campus houses some 10,000 strains of insect-spread viruses from different countries and points in time.
Of course, Ol’ Kenny isn’t the only wingnut dying to privatize everything. From TALKING POINTS MEMO:
Sharron Angle has still got it. In the wake of attacks over her previous position of privatizing the Department of Veterans Affairs, Angle is now denying that she wanted to tear down the system. In fact, she says that she was calling for the V.A. to “do a better job.” But of course, the original transcript says quite the opposite.
“Well, first of all, when we talk about Harry Reid’s ads, let’s remember that a half truth is no truth. And what you’re finding in his ads are these half truths. We were discussing, at the time that I made that remark, we were discussing Obamacare and Medicare. And how Harry Reid has taken a half a trillion dollars out of Medicare, right out at a place where seniors have choices–Medicare Advantage, one of the programs that actually works. And I was talking about my father, who is 88 years old, he’s on Medicare, he’s on Social Security, and he’s a veteran. [...] He has served this country, and yet he pays $800 a month in prescription drugs that are not covered by the VA and they’re not covered by Medicare. And, there is a lot of you that understand what I’m saying. And that was the context of those comments. I said that they could do a better job, that’s all I said, is the VA could do a better job for our veterans.[...]“
In fact, as Ralston points out, the original transcript of Angle’s remarks from May show that she was very much against having the V.A. cover more things, in favor of a privatized system and less government dependency. Here are the relevant comments, stemming from a discussion of Social Security:
Angle: … And my father [...] doesn’t live on his Social Security, he has investments that he has made over the years in rental properties and things like that–that are actually paying for his retirement. He needs more and more supervised care. He’s 87 years old and has Parkinson’s and we have to pay more and more for his healthcare. I know he pays over 800 dollars a month in prescription drugs that we can’t get through his VA nor through Medicare–they just wont cover those things. And I know lots of seniors–
Becker: Should they cover those things?
Angle: No, not if you’re working towards a privatized system. And he can pay for them. That’s my whole point.
From THE Nation (September 24, 2010):
The House Republican “Pledge to America” would make permanent George Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, at a cost of more than $3 trillion over the coming decade.
Yet, the GOP gameplan proposes to address the massive shortfall with a freeze on only some domestic programs that would save about $100 billion next year — “approximately 7.7 percent of the projected $1.3 trillion budget deficit,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
How will the rest of the massive budget deficits proposed in the GOP pledge be offset?
Buried in the twenty-one-page document is the real pledge: a discussion of “reviewing” Social Security and other entitlement programs” and a commitment to a program “requiring a full accounting of Social Security.”
DC bureaucrat-speak, to be sure. But it is not hard to translate.
“What’s hidden in this pledge is the Republican pledge to privatize Social Security,” says Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida.
“They clearly support privatizing Social Security. They clearly support turning Medicare into a voucher program,” says Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. noting that two key players in the House Republican Caucus—Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor—have are busy championing such proposals. “Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor wrote a book about it and are in the middle of a book tour promoting that.”
Ryan and Cantor will have plenty of company if Republicans sweep this year’s mid-term elections. Some of the party’s leading contenders are explcit about their disdain for Social Security.
Appearing this week on an Alaska radio show, Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller—Sarah Palin’s personal favorite—referred to maintaining Social Security programs as federal initiative where “government is into something that it shouldn’t have gotten into.”
From Wayne Independent:
Honesdale, Pa. —Democratic senatorial candidate Joe Sestak attacked his opponent, Republican Pat Toomey, who said Friday he was in favor of privatizing Social Security.
“It is critical that we protect and preserve Social Security as well as take steps to ensure its solvency for future generations,” Sestak said, while talking to voters on Tuesday in Scranton.
Sestak’s campaign stressed the fact that Toomey has said on record in various media outlets that he is in favor of privatization.
On Friday, Toomey was interviewed by Ted Koppel for National Public Radio, where he said he was in favor after weeks of actively denying it, said a Sestak campaign spokesman.
“Yeah, and the thing, you know, I’ve always objected to the term privatize because it conjures up very misleading notions, I think, for a lot of people,” Toomey told Ted Koppel during a National Public Radio interview.