The Obama administration continues to stumble in its effort to dramatize the impact of sequestration.
During a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning, Representative Andy Harris (R., Md.) challenged the White House over misleading claims about sequestration’s impact on vaccines for children. Harris asked Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), whether or not he was consulted by the White House regarding its state-by-state report on the negative impact of sequestration. Frieden, curiously, was unable to answer the question. “I would have to get back to you on that,” he said.
In keeping with the administration’s campaign to scare the American public, the report claimed that thousands fewer children would receive vaccinations as a result of the cuts. In Harris’s home state of Maryland, the White House claimed that 2,050 fewer children would be vaccinated.
Harris then noted that the relevant federal program — known as the 317 Immunization Program — had its budget cut by $58 million in President Obama’s most recent budget request, a cut that was opposed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials. That figure is nearly double the amount that must now be cut under sequestration (about $30 million).
“Can I assume that the president’s proposed cut would have reduced funding to 4,100 children in Maryland?” Harris asked. Once again, Frieden said he would “have to get back to you on that,” but ultimately suggested that CDC would have been able avoide reductions in child vaccinations under the president’s lower budget numbers, but not under the smaller cuts mandated by sequestration, which as Harris noted, is a “very interesting” claim.