The Corner

Re: Manic Measles Monday

Here are, by the way, Senator Paul’s comments on vaccines:

Q: Senator, maybe you’re not aware, but there’s a huge problem right now with Disney theme parks having to close down because of mumps. Not enough children being vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella because their parents for whatever reason have decided that it is voluntary. And I can tell you plenty of the people who I work with are really concerned about their kids getting sick at school.

PAUL: Here’s the thing is, I think vaccines are one of the biggest medical breakthroughs that we’ve had. I’m a big fan and a great fan of the history and the development of the smallpox vaccine for example. But for most of our history they have been voluntary, so I don’t think I’m arguing for anything out of the ordinary, we’re arguing for what most of our history has had.

Q: I understand you’re all for the choice. But again, if we’re left in a situation where diseases that were once almost wiped out are now coming back because people are deciding not to vaccinate their kids, isn’t that a problem?

PAUL: I think public awareness of how good vaccines are for kids and how they are good for public health is a great idea. We just appointed a Surgeon General. These are some of the things that are things that we should promote as good for our health. But I don’t think there’s anything extraordinary about resorting to freedom. I’ll give you a good example. The Hepatitis B vaccine is now given to newborns, we sometimes give 5 and 6 vaccines all at one time. I chose to have mine delayed. I don’t want the government telling me that I have to give my newborn a Hepatitis B vaccine which is transmitted by sexually transmitted disease, and/or blood transfusions. Do I think it’s ultimately a good idea? Yeah. And I’ve had mine staggered over several months.

I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea, I think they’re a good thing. But I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children and it is an issue of freedom.

The recent kerfuffle over vaccines, measles, and parental choice has dug up a number of interesting comments by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Jim gathered some here. As Dan noted this morning, elements of these comments are by themselves unobjectionable. Rand is right that generally, parents get to make decisions about their kids because it’s a free country. How much sanction we apply to get people to make the right choices — socially and legally, at ideally lower levels of government — can be a matter of debate.

But this isn’t debatable: What Dr. Paul said today, Michele Bachmann said in 2012, and Senators Obama and Clinton suggested in 2008 just isn’t true. There isn’t any reliable scientific evidence about mental downsides to vaccines.

We hear a lot about “irresponsible political rhetoric” — offering inaccurate information that can affect people’s personal choices and health is irresponsible, and not really political rhetoric at all.

As a nerdy aside: Paul sparred later in the vaccine interview, with Kelly Evans of CNBC, about whether or not a transportation-funding plan he’s proposed with Democratic senator Barbara Boxer also relies on a more-or-less discredited argument: that a temporary reduction in tax rates on profits brought back to the U.S. won’t cost huge amounts of tax revenue (and can therefore justify itself by the investment it causes here). Evans is correct that the economic consensus is that it would indeed cost a lot of revenue, although the paper Paul cites looks somewhat intriguing.

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

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