Americans should be proud. We have a shiny new Ebola Czar! True, he’s a leftist political hack with no medical background other than that he once applied a Bandaid to a paper cut on his pinkie, but I’ll get to him just as soon as I accept Mr. Obama’s appointment as chief of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. After all, I’m an English teacher; I’m surely as qualified for that post as the new Ebola Czar!
But let’s ask a pertinent question: Who is Dr. Nicole Lurie and why has no one heard of or seen her? Not long ago, her picture would have been on milk cartons across the nation. This is a particularly interesting question when we consider that she has been the Ebola–and similar disease–Czar at the National Institutes For Health for a bit less than a decade. Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist, has the story:
What’s particularly interesting about this discussion, then, is that nobody has even discussed the fact that the federal government not ten years ago created and funded a brand new office in the Health and Human Services Department specifically to coordinate preparation for and response to public health threats like Ebola. The woman who heads that office, and reports directly to the HHS secretary, has been mysteriously invisible from the public handling of this threat. And she’s still on the job even though three years ago she was embroiled in a huge scandal of funneling a major stream of funding to a company with ties to a Democratic donor—and away from a company that was developing a treatment now being used on Ebola patients.
What?! A federal government bureaucrat (Medicrat?) embroiled in a political scam, enriching Democrat cronies at the expense of the public welfare? In the Obama Administration? Impossible! Haven’t Democrat politicians been telling us the whole Ebola mess is the fault of Republicans who have cruelly taken vital funds away from scientists laboring ceaselessly on a vaccine and/or cure for Ebola?
Before the media swallow implausible claims of funding problems, perhaps they could be more skeptical of the idea that government is responsible for solving all of humanity’s problems. Barring that, perhaps the media could at least look at the roles that waste, fraud, mismanagement, and general incompetence play in the repeated failures to solve the problems the feds unrealistically claim they will address. In a world where a $12.5 billion slush fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is used to fight the privatization of liquor stores, perhaps we should complain more about mission creep and Progressive faith in the habitually unrealized magic of increased government funding.
Well, how much has the NIH been given? Hasn’t it all been ruthlessly cut by cruel Republicans that want people to get Ebola and die? Not quite.
Collins’ NIH is part of the Health and Human Services Department. Real spending at that agency has increased nine-fold since 1970 and now tops $900 billion. Oh, if we could all endure such ‘funding slides,’ eh?
Whether or not Dr. Collins’ effort to get more funding for NIH will be successful—if the past is prologue, we’ll throw more money at him—the fact is that Congress passed legislation with billions of dollars in funding specifically to coordinate preparation for public health threats like Ebola not 10 years ago. And yet the results of such funding have been hard to evaluate.
See, in 2004, Congress passed The Project Bioshield Act. The text of that legislation authorized up to $5,593,000,000 in new spending by NIH for the purpose of purchasing vaccines that would be used in the event of a bioterrorist attack. A major part of the plan was to allow stockpiling and distribution of vaccines.
Just two years later, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which created a new assistant secretary for preparedness and response to oversee medical efforts and called for a National Health Security Strategy. The Act established Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority as the focal point within HHS for medical efforts to protect the American civilian population against naturally occurring threats to public health. It specifically says this authority was established to give “an integrated, systematic approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies.’
Last year, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 which keep the programs in effect for another five years.
Cool! We’re been preparing–at least on paper–for Ebola and diseases like it for a long time and we’ve thrown untold billions at it. That’s good, right? Right?
If you look at any of the information about these pieces of legislation or the office and authorities that were created, this brand new expansion of the federal government was sold to us specifically as a means to fight public health threats like Ebola. That was the entire point of why the office and authorities were created.
In fact, when Sen. Bob Casey was asked if he agreed the U.S. needed an Ebola czar, which some legislators are demanding, he responded: ‘I don’t, because under the bill we have such a person in HHS already.
That person has been–still is–Dr. Nicole Lurie. What, exactly, are we paying her to do?
…we have an office for public health threat preparedness and response. And one of HHS’ eight assistant secretaries is the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, whose job it is to ‘lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters, ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism.’
…the woman who heads that office, Dr. Nicole Lurie, explains that the responsibilities of her office are ‘to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.’ She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to ‘have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.
Wow! This Dr. Lurie must be an on-top-of-it-all kind of gal! Thanks goodness the federal government had the foresight to establish her position, lavishly fund it, and give a go-getter like Dr. Lurie the job.
Or, as National Journal rather glowingly puts it, ‘Lurie’s job is to plan for the unthinkable. A global flu pandemic? She has a plan. A bioterror attack? She’s on it. Massive earthquake? Yep. Her responsibilities as assistant secretary span public health, global health, and homeland security.’ A profile of Lurie quoted her as saying, ‘I have responsibility for getting the nation prepared for public health emergencies—whether naturally occurring disasters or man-made, as well as for helping it respond and recover. It’s a pretty significant undertaking.’ Still another refers to her as ‘the highest-ranking federal official in charge of preparing the nation to face such health crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and pandemic influenza.
Since we have a person in that position, a person who actually is, you know, a medical doctor and presumably knows something about, you know, diseases, why do we need this guy:
Bridget Johnson reported earlier that President Obama has appointed Ron Klain to become Ebola czar.
Klain’s career is not in medicine, epidemiology, or any field related to disease control or prevention.
Klain is a laywer, a K Street lobbyist, and a career Democrat party operative. Klain is not a doctor. He is a Democrat loyalist.
Not only was he involved in Al Gore’s 2000 election recount as Bridget reported, Klain was involved in the Obama administration’s Solyndra debacle.
In January 2012, ABC News reported that Klain, then Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, was right in the middle of the administration’s poor and controversial handling of Solyndra’s bankruptcy.
Well no wonder he’s been put in charge of keeping a deadly disease from turning into a pandemic on American soil! He knows how to break the law, conduct cover ups, rig elections, waste billions in taxpayer dollars to the benefit of Democrat toadies, and lie about it all! Back to Ms. Hemingway:
There are a few interesting things about the scandal Lurie was embroiled in years ago. You can—and should—read all about it in the Los Angeles Times‘ excellent front-page expose from November 2011, headlined: ‘Cost, need questioned in $433-million smallpox drug deal: A company controlled by a longtime political donor gets a no-bid contract to supply an experimental remedy for a threat that may not exist.’ This Forbes piece is also interesting.
The donor is billionaire Ron Perelman, who was controlling shareholder of Siga. He’s a huge Democratic donor but he also gets Republicans to play for his team, of course. Siga was under scrutiny even back in October 2010 when The Huffington Post reported that it had named labor leader Andy Stern to its board and ‘compensated him with stock options that would become dramatically more valuable if the company managed to win the contract it sought with HHS—an agency where Stern has deep connections, having helped lead the year-plus fight for health care reform as then head of the Service Employees International Union.’
The award was controversial from almost every angle—including disputes about need, efficacy, and extremely high costs. There were also complaints about awarding a company of its size and structure a small business award as well as the negotiations involved in granting the award. It was so controversial that even Democrats in tight election races were calling for investigations.
Last month, Siga filed for bankruptcy after it was found liable for breaching a licensing contract. The drug it’s been trying to develop, which was projected to have limited utility, has not really panned out—yet the feds have continued to give valuable funds to the company even though the law would permit them to recoup some of their costs or to simply stop any further funding.
The Los Angeles Times revealed that, during the fight over the grant, Lurie wrote to Siga’s chief executive, Dr. Eric A. Rose, to tell him that someone new would be taking over the negotiations with the company. She wrote, ‘I trust this will be satisfactory to you.’ Later she denied that she’d had any contact with Rose regarding the contract, saying such contact would have been inappropriate.
OK then. So Dr. Lurie sounds like just another unethical political hack in an Administration absolutely overflowing with unethical political hacks. Just how much money are we spending, through Dr. Lurie and others, on Ebola and actual–you know–diseases?
Consider again how The Huffington Post parroted Collins’ claims:
Money, or rather the lack of it, is a big part of the problem. NIH’s purchasing power is down 23 percent from what it was a decade ago, and its budget has remained almost static. In fiscal year 2004, the agency’s budget was $28.03 billion. In FY 2013, it was $29.31 billion—barely a change, even before adjusting for inflation.
Of course, between the fiscal years 2000 and 2004, NIH’s budget jumped a whopping 58 percent. HHS’s 70,000 workers will spend a total of $958 billion this year, or about $7,789 for every U.S. household. A 2012 report on federal spending including the following nuggets about how NIH spends its supposedly tight funds:
- a $702,558 grant for the study of the impact of televisions and gas generators on villages in Vietnam.
- $175,587 to the University of Kentucky to study the impact of cocaine on the sex drive of Japanese quail.
- $55,382 to study hookah smoking in Jordan.
- $592,527 to study why chimpanzees throw objects [the “objects” are shit, and the study also tried to figure out why most chimps are right-handed].
Last year there were news reports about a $509,840 grant from NIH to pay for a study that will send text messages in “gay lingo” to meth-heads. There are many other shake-your-head examples of misguided spending that are easy to find.
Now I’m as concerned about the strategic lack of gay lingo text messages for meth-heads as the next guy, and I can’t think of anything more pressing in epidemiological research than quantifying the number of left-handed, shit-chucking chimpanzees, but even for the Obamites, $958 billion dollars is real money. Why, that’s almost like a trillion or something! Imagine if the NIH actually spent it on, you know, medicine!
If, gentle readers, you’re still not convinced that, medically speaking, we’re in the very best of hands, consider this:
In his White House briefing Friday, press secretary Josh Earnest struggled to tell the White House Press Corps what newly-appointed ‘Ebola Czar’ Ron Klain even knows about the lethal virus that has America worried.
After fielding a question from CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta wondering about Klain’s knowledge of Ebola, Earnest spent roughly two minutes beating around the bush explaining Klain’s bonafides, much of which had nothing to do with Ebola, and about his other experience, particularly while managing the stimulus package of 2009.
‘What does Ron Klain know about Ebola?’ questioned Acosta.
‘Let’s talk about…let me re-state why this person…why the president believes it was important to add this person to his team,’ Earnest began in his response. ‘The president wanted somebody who could serve in a coordinating function, to manage our implementation of our whole of government approach to this Ebola situation.’
‘To more directly address your question, what we were looking for was not an Ebola expert, but rather an implementation expert, and that’s exactly what Ron Klain is,’ Earnest said.
Earnest went on to list Klain’s credentials for the job, including experience in the private sector and within the White House, where Earnest lauded his time managing the Stimulus package in 2009, noting his performance included ‘unprecedented transparency.
Why do we know nothing of Dr. Lurie? Why is she in the same category as Barack Obama’s college transcripts: in the Twilight Zone? And why is a corrupt, Democrat hustler and political hack now in charge of protecting Americans from an Ebola pandemic?
One need not stretch too far for likely explanations. Dr. Lurie has probably accomplished next to nothing–perhaps nothing–in a decade in the furtherance of her “official” duties. Judging from Obama administration Standard Operating Procedure, it’s likely what she has accomplished is unethically, perhaps illegally, enriching Obama cronies and performing other political useful leftist scams. Obamite SOP also includes trying to hide–and lie about–such people and their misdeeds on behalf of the President and his agenda. Of course, Dr. Lurie could simply be shy, and doesn’t want the world to learn of her Nobel prize-winning medical discoveries and advancements out of fear of terminal embarrassment. After all, if Barack Obama can win a Nobel Peace Prize just for being Barack Obama, what actual scientist or humanitarian would want one? Most likely, there are things in Dr. Lurie’s history at the NIH the Obama Administration doesn’t want anyone to know about. We know how rare that sort of thing is in the Age of Obama don’t we?
And Ron Klain? Obama Administration SOP. If you like that Ebola-free body, you can keep that Ebola-free body.