The week that was

The government didn’t shut down Friday.  At the last minute Congress extended funding. Social security checks will continue coming, and our myriad government agencies will continue plugging away–at least until Dec. 3 when this extension expires.

The bill passed Thursday by a 65-35 vote. Idaho senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo were among the 35 Republicans who voted to furlough government workers and stop all government checks.It must be part of the conservatism that keeps them near and dear to Idaho Republicans.

Now, Congress has until Oct. 18 to raise the debt limit. Not doing so will require immediate cuts in spending or defaulting on our debt; either would trigger a recession and widespread unemployment. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell–who’s personally voted to raise the limit 33 times– says that Republicans will vote doing so again in order to stop Democratic programs.

Republicans figure a recession prior to the 2022 elections could put them back in power.

But in Idaho, Covid-19 continues to occupy the news–and with good reason. Although the number of cases is less than the peak last December, the number of hospitalizations and deaths are setting records. The 7-day average for hospitalizations was 742 on Sept. 30, more than tenfold higher than the low of 67 in July and 50% higher than the peak of 467 last December.

Similarly, the 7-day average for Idaho Covid deaths rose to 50 on Sept. 30, from a low of three in July, and the previous high of 20 last December..

A year ago, many of us looked forward to liberation once a vaccine was developed. Instead, we’re masking and distancing, mourning with loved ones, and reading about the crisis in our hospitals.

And we’re learning that many anti-vaxxers weren’t terrible people. Many of those dying were assets to our communities. Too many were young; some were pregnant.

A recent article on the morale of hospital personnel stressed that they didn’t blame unvaccinated patients, but those who led them to become anti-vaxxers; those who claimed that the entire medical community was conspiring with Big Pharma for some purpose or another; those who preached that the pandemic didn’t exist except as a scare tactic to get people to take a vaccine that caused health crises and deaths–and possibly contained microscopic chips that could spy on us; those who said we should trust God to protect us–even as we routinely rely on pasteurized milk, clean water, and sanitary food processing.

So who are the “they” responsible for killing thousands of Americans each day? Hint: 23 of the 25 states with the lowest vaccination rates are Republican.

Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science was published in 2006 and is still in print today. It details how Republicans  fought science in order to stop research and regulations for environmental, health and work safety. They continued to support the tobacco industry when it was well known that their products cause cancer, to protect oil and coal companies from actions to slow global warming, and to allow pharmaceutical companies to charge exorbitant amounts for drugs created in labs funded by taxpayers.

Republicans have lied and distorted science every step of the way.  For a decade,the worst attempts to restore unlimited corporate pollution were halted by the courts. The Trump administration, however, appointed 226 judges, including 54 appeals court judges. Will many side with corporations rather than people?

So we can blame an unnamed “they” for promoting an unreasonable fear of the Covid vaccine. But Republicans created the audience for them, an audience suspicious of, and lacking respect for, scientific research.

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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