Alex Blaze

Will Congressional Democrats let people with HIV/AIDS die?

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 10, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: ADAP, fiscal policy, HIV/AIDS, Ryan White CARE Act

Congress apparently can't get it's act together on an emergency ADAP supplemental (money for low-income HIV-positive folks to get meds). A couple Republicans are playing politics with the money needed and saying that they'll support the funding if it comes at the expense of already inadequate stimulus money, but there's no suggestion that the GOP is serious about that plan. Liberal Democrats want the emergency funding to pass, but they're blaming the Republicans (because Republicans, when not in the majority, must approve all bills anyway). And AIDS activists are calling out the Blue Dogs, whose fiscal conservatism causes them to ask for people with HIV to die for a little while so the economy can bounce back (how demand in the US economy will be increased as the government cuts spending is never explained, but these folks are the geniuses that got us here so we should just trust them).

I know that no one on the Hill wants to call out the Blue Dogs for letting people die so they can save $126 million while they continue to finance wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the tune of $159 billion a year (in addition to the already bloated Defense budget), but this just isn't acceptable. Baldwin and Pelosi both blame Republicans, but if the Democrats can't fall in line on money for working class and poor people who may die without it, then the party stands for absolutely nothing.

Now, obviously, the Blue Dogs that favor PLWHA dying (and dying quickly and quietly) aren't coming right out and saying it. But the Blade has its sources:

[William Arnold, executive director of the National ADAP Working Group] also noted that the Tea Party movement appears to have frightened both Republicans and Democrats from embracing new spending, even if they know it's needed to help save lives.

Some Capitol Hill insiders have said the reluctance by lawmakers to back spending measures appears to have stopped a supplemental appropriations bill normally approved each year to pay for federal disaster relief efforts. AIDS activists were hoping a supportive committee member would seek to add the ADAP emergency appropriation to this bill.

That bill, which was before the House Appropriations Committee, was expected to come up for a committee vote last month, just before Memorial Day. But Arnold and other sources familiar with the measure said Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) reportedly put the bill on "hold" because he couldn't line up the votes among his fellow Democrats to pass it.

Moderate and conservative Blue Dog Democrats were among those reluctant to back the bill, said people familiar with the measure.

"The Blue Dog Democrats have been very opposed to spending money, period, because they're worried about getting re-elected and they're from swing districts where tea partiers might be challenging them," Arnold said.

I don't see why Democrats are afraid of Tea Baggers saying, "They spent a little money to keep people alive, and I want to stop that so that we can spend a thousand times more on a war accomplishing nothing on the other side of thee world." In a sane world where Democrats knew how to debate finance and economics, they would be begging for opponents that stupid. And there's no doubt there - the Tea Baggers really are that stupid (or hateful, take your pick).

But the problem isn't that Blue Dogs mistakenly believe that they need to be fiscally conservative to win elections, it's that they actually believe in fiscal conservatism. They have a certain zeal to make the American people suffer so that they can say we're all pitching in to make the economy recover, while making sure rich people keep on getting paid. And most don't really care about HIV/AIDS and wouldn't cry all that much if people did start dying like they did back in the early 90's.

It's their fault. They shouldn't have had sex out of heterosexual wedlock. And since they chose to, it's their responsibility to find a job with a large corporation that has a health care plan that covers their medication or use their large inheritances to treat their disease. If they can't do that, then they're obviously just lazy slobs.

It should really be a no-brainer. Spending this money saves lives, yes, but even those who are counting pennies with a Scrooge-like heart should be in favor. The money makes money in several ways: by keeping PLWHA out of emergency rooms and hospitals, by reducing viral load thereby decreasing the chance they'll infect someone else, and by keeping state programs from being shut down during a recession, which is a great way to stimulate the economy:

Economic-benefits-of-stimul.jpg

But it isn't a no-brainer with the politicians we have to work with. Either they really don't care for people with HIV/AIDS, they really think that $126 million for this is going to turn America into Greece, or they just want to prove their fiscal conservative cred by punishing the American public. None of those explanations is particularly sane, but that's the world we're living in.


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We keep asking questions about "Will the Democrats allow...?" and the answer almost always seems to be, "Yes. Yes, they will."