Throwback Thursday: Cory Gardner’s Ebola Games

During the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, prior votes to cut funding to the Centers for Disease Control and other related public health agencies have emerged as a major political liability for the generally Republican owners of those votes up for re-election in 2020. This includes America’s Most Vulnerable Senator™ Cory Gardner, who in both the House and most of his Senate career almost never met a line-item he couldn’t vote to slash–especially when Barack Obama was President, and the nastiest votes came consequence-free due to them being political nonstarters.

Back in 2014, CBS4 reported on a fiery exchange between then-Rep. Gardner’s Senate campaign and incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall over cuts to funding for the CDC that both had participated in during the historically fraught fiscal years of 2011-14–though Gardner had in fact voted for even more:

Last week, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall accused his Republican challenger, Rep. Cory Gardner, of voting to cut $300 million from the Centers for Disease Control, the agency in charge of containing any Ebola in the United States. On Monday, Gardner’s campaign noted that Udall had also voted to cut the CDC’s budget as part of a 2011 budget deal that Gardner himself had also supported.

Udall’s campaign responded that Gardner had supported far deeper CDC cuts. Gardner voted for $755 million in CDC cuts as part of a 2011 Republican budget in the House of Representatives that did not pass the senate, [Pols emphasis] including a $269 million reduction in emergency response. That, Udall spokesman Chris Harris said, was the cut that Udall had referenced in last week’s debate.

Still, the Gardner campaign noted that the Democrat had also signed onto the across-the-board spending cuts that reduced the CDC budget by $289 million. “Sen. Udall’s attack is hypocritical,” Gardner spokesman Matt Connelly said.

You see, back when Republicans were routinely shutting down the government for the self-sustaining purpose of politically bedeviling President Obama, cutting funding for the CDC was a GOP no-brainer. During the Ebola outbreak in 2014 just as campaign season was peaking, there was a thought that tightwad Republicans could be made to pay at the ballot box for shorting public health and everything else public sector in order to “starve the beast.” But in the end, Ebola stayed contained–and Republicans won big in the 2014 midterms.

As Politifact ably fact-checked on October 14th, 2014, Cory Gardner engaged in plenty of his now-trademark factually challenged twisting of details about the Centers for Disease Control’s budget on the way to beating Mark Udall by less than two percentage points:

Gardner said the CDC is “spending money on things like jazzercise, urban gardening and massage therapy” that could be redirected Ebola.

We weren’t able to document such expenditures, but given the agency’s spending parameters, it’s certainly possible they’ve been made. However, by cherry-picking three chuckle- (or outrage-) inducing spending items, Gardner presents a misleading description of what the fund does. Those efforts almost certainly represent a tiny fraction of spending from the prevention fund, which is dominated by efforts to attack diseases that kill more than 1.4 million people every year, rather than one so far with Ebola.

The claim contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, so we rate it Mostly False. [Pols emphasis]

The benefit of hindsight certainly makes now-Sen. Gardner’s cavalier presumption and misinformation about the federal agency tasked with halting the spread of communicable disease politically quite toxic. Had the Ebola virus broken out of containment and become a threat to the general population of the United States in 2014, the political consequences for those who thoughtlessly maligned the CDC might have been very different.

With Cory Gardner back on the ballot during a pandemic, it remains toxic six years later.

4 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MichaelBowman says:

    One of my favorite Twitter feeds….

  2. harrydoby says:

    Max Boot of the Washington Post: Hypocrisy reaches pandemic proportions in Republican ranks

    When you play this game — “What if Obama had done it?” — you quickly realize that most Republican talking heads and politicians are cynical hypocrites who will say anything for partisan advantage. They express no reservations about Trump doing on a much greater scale so many of the things that they bitterly denounced under Obama — e.g., deficit spendingexpanding executive authoritymeeting with dictatorsresisting subpoenasdisrespecting the Oval Officeplaying golf. Now, the great pandemic and recession of 2020 have added a few choice chapters to the annals of Republican inconsistency.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Full article is available only to Post subscribers……..

      • harrydoby says:

        Yes, unfortunately.  The paragraph above expressed much of the essence of the article.  But here are a few more of the juicy bits

        During the Obama years, the Republican threshold for outrage was at ground level; now it’s so high that it’s lost in space. Back then, House Republicans created a special committee and spent more than two years investigating the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Now, Republicans resist any House attempts to investigate Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus — or his handling of nearly $3 trillion in stimulus. All the House Republicans voted last week against creating a subcommittee to track federal coronavirus spending.

        Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) expressed concern that the new subcommittee would work “nonstop to criticize President Trump and try to influence the 2020 election.” Using a House investigation for political purposes? What an outrage — except when Republicans do it. In 2015, then-Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) bragged that the Benghazi probe was part of a strategy to defeat Hillary Clinton — and that it was working because her “numbers are dropping.”

        Hypocrisy must be contagious because it has reached pandemic proportions in the Republican ranks. Trump didn’t start the outbreak, but he is a super-spreader with a viral load of shamelessness. We need to run further clinical trials but, so far, not even repeated exposure to sunlight has cured this malady. Is there some disinfectant that Republicans can inject?

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