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Oct 22, 2004 12:00 am
George W. Bush has made one of the greatest political comebacks in American history. For years he was cast as a simpleton and intellectual lightweight. But now Democrats are attributing supernatural powers to the president. It's been an amazing turn of fortune. Before, President Bush could barely tie his shoelaces. But just this year, so Democrats say, Dubya has caused a string of hurricanes to batter Florida, has kept the crippled such as Christopher Reeve confined to wheelchairs, and now the president is credited with the shortage in flu vaccinations.
Consider that on Oct. 19, John F. Kerry released a radio advertisement which stated, in part, "If you're an elderly man or woman, if you're a young child, if you're a pregnant woman, George Bush and the Republicans have this to say on health care: Don't get sick."
During an NPR interview, Kerry also asked "If you can't get flu vaccines to Americans, what kind of health care program are you running?" (Hopefully the answer would be "none." Presidents shouldn't run health care programs. It's the job of the private sector. It's also a curious answer coming from someone who insisted during the final presidential debate that his proposed government-run health care program isn't government-run.)
The shortage in flu vaccinations also prompted Sen. Hillary Clinton to remark that President Bush is "more interested in tax cuts for the rich than for flu shots for everyone who needs them. This administration has their priorities wrong, and we've really paid a big price for their negligence."
Hillary Clinton is that last person who should talk. In reality, she and her husband are a root cause of our perennial flu vaccine shortages.
In 1993, Hillary Clinton's "Vaccines for Children Program" was first implemented. This was a program designed to make vaccines more available to the poor, uninsured, and underinsured children, even though, reported the Wall Street Journal last year, child vaccination rates in U.S. at that time were considered relatively high by medical experts.
The program turned the government into the major purchaser and distributor of vaccines. Not only did Clinton's idea fail to result in any noticeable increase in childhood vaccination rates, but it also drove prices so low that the financial incentive for private companies to develop and produce vaccines was largely removed, making business unsustainable.
There's still another reason we aren't producing flu vaccinations in this nation: trial lawyers, such as John Edwards, and the legal concept of "liability without fault." Notes the Oct. 25 edition of The Weekly Standard, "Under liability without fault … the manufacturer can be held responsible for harm from its products, whether blameworthy or not. Add to that the jackpot awards that come from pain-and-suffering and punitive damages, and you have a legal climate that no manufacturer wants to risk."
For example, when an epidemic occurred at Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976, the government took it upon itself to vaccinate the entire nation against the swine flu. Insurance companies refused to participate, so Congress, under the urging of Ted Kennedy, decided to provide the insurance. The Congressional Budget Office had estimated at the time the 45 million inoculations would yield 4,500 injury claims and 90 damage awards amounting to $2 million. In reality, there were 4,169 damage claims filed and 700 damage awards totaling in excess of $100 million. Indeed, the insurance companies knew better than the government.
Like the price controls resulting from the Vaccines for Children Program, the outcome of "liability without fault" has meant disaster for the vaccine industry. In 1967, there were 26 companies making vaccines in the United States. Today there are only four that make any type of vaccine, and none making the flu vaccine. And although vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for recently emerging illnesses such as Lyme disease, no commercial vaccine exists, because no one is willing to take the enormous risk of producing and distributing it.
The combination of Clinton's program and "liability without fault" has been so disasterous that the United States is now looking to companies in Britain and France to supply the 100 million flu vaccines to be administered here this year.
Democrats are making a campaign issue out of the flu vaccine shortage now the Kerry campaign has shifted into crisis gear, and are now blaming President Bush for every ill – perceived and real – our nation faces. Ironically, it was a Democrat program which helped paved the way for the chronic shortages we face, illustrating once again that liberal ideas might be noble when conceived, but are disastrous when applied.
The Democratic Party is throwing everything it can at President Bush hoping to generate some traction for John Kerry. And as usual, Democrats are relying on the ignorance of the American people to shift blame onto the President that rightfully applies to them. Indeed, the lame excuse that President Bush is more interested in tax cuts for the rich than flu shots, when the real reasons are far more complex and condemnatory of the left, exposes a party that is desperate and generally bereft of ideas. Our perennial shortage of flu vaccines is the direct result of failed liberalism the left won't own up to, and the Democrats' only response is to hold President Bush "liable without fault."