Milton Friedman used to muse that Washington agencies could always find an excuse for needing more money. “If the program was a failure,” he said, “it was because the budget was too small. And if the program was a success we needed to reward it with even more money.”
We were reminded of this when we learned that Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wants $22.4 billion next year – nearly double its normal budget – so the agency can “more nimbly respond to public health crises.”
Rochelle Rochelle Rochelle! Many words come to mind to describe the job that the CDC has done to combat COVID. “Nimble” is the last one that comes to mind.
Over the last two-and-a-half years we’ve exposed on these pages the sheer incompetence of the CDC. This was an agency that was totally asleep at the switch in how to deal with the pandemic (which is why we have a CDC in the first place). The “woke” agency was preoccupied with issues like gun violence, racial injustice, and climate change, all of which are at best on the outer periphery of the CDC mission. The CDC brass still seems barely familiar with their own COVID and influenza datasets.
Almost every decision the CDC – and their cadre of public health experts like Anthony Fauci – made when COVID hit these shores was catastrophically wrong. They were the lead advocates for business lockdowns, school and church closures, and they were the naysayers who insisted it would take three years for a vaccine. (Trump got it done with Operation Warp Speed in nine months).
Republicans would be fools to give a penny of additional funding for the CDC – an agency whose performance would indicate it needs to be dramatically reformed, shrunk, or shuttered.
Meanwhile, the CDC is still up to its old tricks. Its budget request includes more money to study “gun violence” and how to reduce ”racial and ethnic disparities in public health.”