Trump wants to make avian flu great again

It’s at least a little bit weird how focused Team Trump is on defunding, specifically, the nooks and crannies of the federal government meant to stave off disasters.

First, President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pushed a health care plan that would have slashed funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that tracks farm flu outbreaks and works with the US Department of Agriculture and local authorities to “minimize any human health risk” they cause.That effort collapsed, but now Trump is taking a more direct whack at flu-tracking funding.

The new effort? A $1 billion cut to the Department of Agriculture, plus revoking most of the remaining budget from the 2015 funding to combat that year’s disastrous bird flu epidemic. They plan to use that $50 million, like all their other petty cuts to decent programs, to supersize the military and, we’ll assume, give some specific billionaire yet another tax cut.

Back here in 2017, however, a new avian flu strain is popping back up in multiplestates. It’s too soon to say if it will become a full-on epidemic, but it is a handy reminder that we will undoubtably be spending more money on avian flu, not less.

And the government spends money on these things because not only do they want to avoid a repeat of 2015, when 48 million birds had to be culled from American producers, but because avian flu needs only slight mutations to spread to humans, and we want to avoid a human pandemic.

What’s the Trump-Ryan solution?

Claw back the money meant for those outbreaks, and cut the Department of Agriculture budget by $1 billion dollars, and defund the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, shrinking the CDC’s budget by 12 percent, and cut a whopping $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health, just to make good and sure new diseases get a sporting head start on us.

Maybe Trump isn’t a Russian puppet after all. Maybe he’s a big ol’ virus in a suit, and he’s got a plan to Make America Great Again that only involves the rest of us as host organisms


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