Wineke: This is why we need the deep state

Trump And Pence
US President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, holds a news conference with members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) on the COVID-19 outbreak at the White House on February 26, 2020. - Trump defended his administration's response to the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

MADISON, Wis. — The United States is registering its first cases of the coronavirus, a respiratory illness that seems to be sweeping the world and is highly likely to become a deadly pandemic.

We once had a federal agency that prepared for things like that. In the wake of the Ebola crisis of a few years ago the Obama administration created what amounted to a pandemic office which coordinated federal efforts across the medical, international and security agencies of the government.

When President Trump took office, he abolished those efforts and cut funding for the National Institutes of Health and other national and international agencies that prepared for pandemics.

Now, the coronavirus is here and we are starting from scratch.

On Wednesday, the president appointed Vice President Pence to be in charge of governmental efforts (something neither Pence nor the Department of Homeland Security knew about hours before).

At his press conference Wednesday the president said (I am paraphrasing him here but not misquoting him) the government didn’t need all those experts hanging around and doing little. They are all still alive so all we have to do is call them up and bring them back to Washington.

He also criticized Congress for wanting to authorize more spending on the virus than he thinks necessary. Actually, I have my own questions about that because I’m afraid Trump will just seize the money and use it to help build his wall.

At this point, no one knows just how big a deal the coronavirus will turn out to be. It is possible the virus will just peter out.

Or it may prove far more deadly than we now expect.

The thing is that our government should have been working on this in a coordinated ed manner and it should have been doing so for months.

The reason it hasn’t been is because the current administration abolished the programs developed to do so.

It’s easy to talk about the Deep State and it is easy to pillory governmental bureaucracy. I have no doubt that we have hundreds of well-paid government employees planning for disasters that will never happen.

And I am more than willing to pay taxes so they can continue to do that because, at one point or another, some disaster will happen and I’d like to see us prepared for that.

As it is, we are learning that a lot of the drugs we need to keep us healthy in America are made in China. And China seems to be shutting down because of the coronavirus.

Who knew? I don’t know who knew. My fear is that the people who “knew” were fired a couple of years ago.