Saturday, November 05, 2005

George Bush's Avian Flu Strategy Lacks Wisdom

George Bush has realized he is in danger of checkmate, and at the last minute is desperately trying to move the pieces to delay the inevitable defeat. This time, his Avian Flu game has been defeated – mostly through the action Tom Harkin (D-IA), and the rest of the Senate, including some prominent Republicans. Just what is George Bush thinking nowadays?

For months before Bush’s latest call to recognize Avian Flu, Sen. Harkin has set up an elaborate pawn structure by asking the Bush administration for their plan to address a pandemic outbreak of the avian flu, and the Bush administration failed act or see the consequences of this. Before Bush said a word about Avian Flu, the Senate struck hard at Bush’s side of the board and passed an $8 billion Harkin amendment, cosponsored by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Barack Obama (D-IL) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) which provides antiviral drugs for 50 percent of the population; improves the ability to produce and stockpile vaccines; doubles global surveillance to prevent or slow the spread of the disease from other countries to the United States; and invests in our state and local public health infrastructure – the first line of defense if avian flu reaches our shores. This bill is in addition to a $3.9 billion amendment he attached to the military spending measures that passed through the Senate earlier.


At this point, Republican senators are left unsatisfied with Bush’s game strategy. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), recently asked the health and human services secretary, Michael Leavitt, last Wednesday, why the plan had taken years to complete.

Bush not only failed to act first, but he has sacrificed a key chess piece as states will have to foot a large bill for Avian Flu since the administration's proposed fiscal year 2006 budget slashes funding for state and local public-health departments by $129 million from the previous year's funding levels.

George Bush, in addition to failing to act quickly for Katrina, you now expect states like disaster ridden Louisiana, to pay in money and lives if Avian Flu strikes. When former President Bill Clinton was in charge and required vaccination for smallpox, he made sure states would receive federal funding to support them.


In fact, Bush has a history of cutting relief in general. Looking back to post 9/11, President Bush cut millions from money put aside for emergency relief. About two weeks ago he has said, "I encourage Congress to push the envelope when it comes to cutting spending," while he expressed approval over the passage of a House bill which cut student loan subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by unfair trade practices, with chances of cuts to food stamps and Medicaid looming in the future.

These cuts are being made through Bush’s strategic lead, to cover the expense of the after-the-fact hurricane relief costs which could have been massively reduced if President Bush had paid more attention to looming disaster in the poverty-stricken city of New Orleans in the first place.


Bush is stalling his way to an inevitable checkmate by as he plays the larger, Republican values strategy the worst possible way. As a form of advice Mr. Bush, I suggest moving all of your pieces besides one and I suggest abandoning your avian flu strategy by standing behind recent Senate action on Avian Flu to assure your few remaining pieces will survive – at least another turn. You have shown quite well how going at it alone with your key pieces while sacrificing the pawns will never work in the long run. With your Avian Flu strategy easily defeated, you have your back against a wall.

My biggest hope is that Republicans will realize when Bush’s newest strategies are failing ones, by being able to recognize when a move is actually a losing move rather than a winning one. Failure to do this, will likely allow Bush to speed his way towards an inevitable -



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