It is true that spending for the CDC has dipped ever so slightly since 2011, but the cuts followed years of massive increases. Overall, since 2000, CDC outlays have almost doubled, from $3.5 billion to $6.8 billion in 2014 constant dollars. Moreover, in January, the Republican-controlled House actually passed legislation that increased CDC spending for 2014 by $567 million — $300 million more than was requested by President Obama.
It’s not that the CDC hasn’t had money, it’s that the money has been spent on things that have little or nothing to do with the agency’s mission of protecting Americans from health threats.
As the agency’s mission statement says in part, “Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.” Seems straightforward enough. There is, after all, a reason for the disease in the CDC’s name.
Yet, while the agency still might not have been prepared for an Ebola outbreak, President Obama did restart its push for gun control. Over the last decade, in fact, the CDC has spent much of its time — and money — studying seat-belt use, infant car seats, and obesity. These may or may not be worthy topics, but this focus makes it somewhat harder for Democrats to turn around and blame budget cutting for a lack of attention to the things that the CDC is actually supposed to do — like protect us from contagious diseases.
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