Fighting the liberal media, Senate Democrats, some fellow Republicans and the Bush Administration, three conservative Republican senators are continuing to raise the alarm about the federal government’s out-of-control AIDS spending. Senators David Vitter (La.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), and Jim DeMint (S.C.) are making a last-ditch attempt to block the irresponsible and budget-busting $50 billion global AIDS bill (S. 2731).
Debate on the bill, which would even permit entry into the U.S. of HIV-positive aliens, begins on Monday afternoon. The legislation doubles funding for the U.N.-affiliated Global Fund, which disregards U.S. policies on abortion and “needle exchange.”
“The [Global] Fund has serious policy problems, drug quality problems, administrative corruption, and [it] operates programs not bound by U.S. laws on abortion, needle exchange, prostitution/trafficking policy and others,” several senators had declared in a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
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Officially known as PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, this reauthorization bill will increase the dollar amount originally allotted from $15 to $50 billion. The bill “triples PEPFAR’s original budget,” noted one congressional source with alarm.
Senator Barack Obama was one of the original sponsors of the bill, but so was Senator John McCain. In fact, the Global AIDS Alliance issued a June 20 press release headlined, “Presidential Hopefuls Add Support to Landmark Global AIDS Bill,” referring to Obama and McCain.
Paul Zeitz of the Global AIDS Alliance has declared that AIDS is comparable to the threat posed by Hitler’s regime and wants international taxes to fight the “AIDS holocaust.” A variation of such a tax, imposed on international airline travel, has been implemented in 8 countries and proceeds are going to UNITAID, whose partners include the Clinton Foundation and several U.N. agencies. (The eight countries are France, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Niger.)
However, the United Nations over the years has greatly exaggerated the number of those with HIV/AIDS and it is still difficult to get accurate estimates of the problem.
On Friday, the Senate voted 65-3 to proceed to floor action on the bill, with many members absent or not voting. Those voting to invoke cloture and proceed included Senate Republican Leader McConnell. However, this does not mean that all of those voting to bring the bill to the Senate floor will support it when a final vote on the actual legislation is taken. That will depend, in part, on what Senators hear from their constituents this week and what changes, if any, are made to the legislation.
How McCain eventually votes on the bill could help determine whether he is truly a fiscal conservative or whether he responds to liberal special interest pressure. The vote could also determine where there is truly a “dime’s worth of difference” between the presidential candidates and the Democrats and the Republicans generally on an important federal spending matter.
Some lawmakers have been intimidated by AIDS activists coming to Washington to deliver funeral wreaths to those standing in the way of the passage of the legislation. Opponents of the bill have been labeled as “Global AIDS Super villains” by the homosexual lobby.
More support for the extravagant spending has come from the liberal media, led by the New York Times, which published a July 7 editorial accusing a “tiny group of Republicans” of obstructing this “worthy bill.”
It is officially described as “A bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 to provide assistance to foreign countries to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and for other purposes.”
But since the announced discovery of the AIDS virus, known as HIV, the federal government has already spent $200 billion on HIV/AIDS. No cure or vaccine has been discovered and there are increasing doubts about the effectiveness of anti-AIDS drugs.
Increasingly unpopular because of a deteriorating economy, President Bush seems to think that massively increasing spending on foreign aid, especially AIDS in Africa, will create a “legacy” for him. But conservatives argue that excessive federal spending will only make the economic problem worse.
Nevertheless, congressional sources say that the White House has joined Congressional Democrats and the HIV/AIDS “community” in aggressively pushing the bill and trying to force Vitter, Sessions, and DeMint to back down in their opposition.
Unless senators hear from their constituents in strong opposition, the bill could pass quickly.
Senate sources said that the bill would not prohibit funding for HIV/AIDS programs in countries like China, Russia, and India, which have enough money to pay for those programs themselves.
“These countries are wealthy enough that they have active programs in both nuclear weapons and space exploration,” a source said. “Russia is awash in petrodollars, while China has hundreds of billions of dollars in its foreign currency reserves, and has an exploding military budget.”
Yet the American taxpayers are being called upon to pay for HIV/AIDS programs in those countries.
The bill even includes funding for studying the value of male circumcision in AIDS prevention and educating males about the dangers of visiting prostitutes. It diverts funding from AIDS treatment for purposes that include providing substance abuse and treatment services and legal services to AIDS victims.
Richard Darling of the FAIR Foundation told AIM on Friday that federal funding for most diseases is being cut back while spending on AIDS is continuing to rise. He said HIV/AIDS was receiving a “disproportionate” amount of money. In terms of National Institutes of Health research money budgeted per death, figures show that HIV/AIDS gets $206,906, versus $13,365 for diabetes and only $2,639 for heart and stroke.
In addition to official federal funding, Darling pointed out that Hollywood, TV programs like “American Idol,” rock star Bono, and billionaire Bill Gates have been raising and spending tens of millions of dollars on HIV/AIDS.
Other diseases, he pointed out, don’t benefit from such attention and interest.