by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis features college president Larry Arnn‘s reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among his topics is one high-profile agency at the heart of the federal government’s response.
… [T]he CDC was created in 1942 as the Office of National Defense Malaria Control Activities, and in 1946 was renamed the Communicable Disease Center. For many decades it focused its full efforts on its original mission: viruses and communicable diseases. But by the 2000s, the CDC, like most executive agencies, had become largely independent of political control and lost its focus. It had widened its work to include chronic diseases and addictions, nutrition, school health, injuries, and—a telltale sign of ideological corruption and mission creep—racial and ethnic approaches to community health. It is a logical fact that if you favor some people you must disfavor others.
In 2007, the late Senator Tom Coburn issued a well-documented report entitled, “CDC Off Center—A review of how an agency tasked with fighting and preventing disease has spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars for failed prevention efforts, international junkets, and lavish facilities, but cannot demonstrate it is controlling disease.” In the years since, there have been reports documenting multi-million dollar CDC studies on topics like the prevention of gun violence, how parents should discipline children, and chronic health conditions among lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations.
In 2017 alone, the CDC spent over $1.1 billion on chronic disease prevention and health promotion, $215 million on environmental health, and $285 million on injury prevention—all purposes that are addressed by other federal agencies. That money could have been used to prepare for communicable diseases, including replenishment of our stockpile of masks and ventilators. In other words, it could have been used to do the work the CDC was created to do.
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