It’s the latest lobbying technique. No matter what the program may be, be sure to insist how crucial it is to the war on terrorism.
Some arguments are more plausible than others. The Postal Service wants new funding for new machines that will irradiate the mail and kill any deadly spores. And anthrax was sent through the mail. On the other hand, the post office was adrift in red ink long before September 11.
And then there’s the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. Surgeon General David Satcher wants Congress to hand over even more dough than it’s already getting. Threat of bio-terrorism, you see. One of Satcher’s complaints is that the CDC’s laboratories are in lousy shape.
Thanks to lobbying help from an array of corporate supporters, the agency already fetches a whopping $4 billion a year from the government. But Satcher makes it sound as if CDC gets such a skimpy budget that it couldn’t possibly keep its labs in good repair. This crumbling infrastructure is “the fault of the nation, not the CDC,” Satcher says.
In fact, though, the agency has been frittering budget dollars on anti-smoking propaganda, campaigns against TV violence, teaching kindergartners about birth control and so forth. Programs geared more to behavior control than disease control. Talk about mission creep.
A recent audit doesn’t help Satcher’s case. The General Accounting Office says that the Centers’ fiscal managers are mostly incompetent and inexperienced, resulting in case after case of misdirected or lost funds . . . a situation that probably cannot be blamed on terrorists.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.