On Tuesday, my bride received an unsolicited email from Minnesota’s First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn marked as “THE HAGEDORN REPORT *SPECIAL EDITION*: Coronavirus Update” asking her two questions :
Is the current Federal response to the coronavirus adequate?
Do you agree with President Trump prioritizing the development and manufacturing of test kits for the coronavirus?
The questions were obviously vague, but the real question was : What response was Congressman attempting to get — and why now when there were no previous emails over USMCA, healthcare, foreign policy, or other issues / concerns?
The email, which had a button to “Click to take the survey”, was sent by MN01JH.Outreach@mail.house. gov. This is the same site that was used to inform the group Indivisible – St. Peter Greater Mankato that they are not allowed to visit his Mankato office.
Since my bride had never communicated with Congressman Hagedorn, I had to wonder how they got her email address. Shortly after, she got email from a friend that said she also had gotten the same email (who also had never contacted the Hagedorn office) … then another person told us that they got one.
OK … so after complaining on previous MN Political Roundtable posts that Congressman Hagedorn had spent $ 53,324.54 of taxpayer dollars on Franked Mail and $210,668.38 on printing, it is welcome news that he is using the Internet to gauge people’s opinions [read more about Congressman Hagedorn’s spending http://mnpoliticalroundtable.com/2020/03/02/mn01-hagedorn-mra-free-money/ ]
It will be interesting if Congressman Hagedorn publishes the results of his survey. That is a concern since the email addresses were not publicly known, how did Congressman Hagedorn get them … and would the information be used strictly by his congressional staff and not provided to his campaign staff … after all, isn’t the ethics policy pretty clear : “the basic principle that government funds should not be spent to help incumbents gain reelection.”
Tuesday’s email was followed by another email just after midnight on Friday night … and within an hour of the House passing HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The vote wasn’t close with only 40 Party Of Trumpers voting No … including Minnesota’s Sixth District Congressman Tom Emmer … who last week was on MPR passing the Trump message that he heard a vaccine was “imminent” [read about it http://mnpoliticalroundtable.com/2020/03/09/mn06-emmer-on-mpr-taking-the-trump-train-to-fantasyland/.] President Trump had already tweeted his blessing on the House bill, so Congressman Hagedorn was just followed instructions.
The second email had some #HagedornHype that deserves some context.
For example, Congressman Hagedorn states the increases in “Key Health Resources” funding since FY15 … which means October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015 … which sets the mark as increases that started during former Congressman Tim Walz’s years. If the attempt was to show increased funding during the Trump years, why not set the benchmark at FY16, the last year of the Obama Administration ?
Most interesting is the note that the asterisk for funding for “Infectious Disease Response” as FY19 meaning October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019 … yes, the thanks should go to Tim Walz
The creation of the “Infectious Disease Response” program can be traced back to work done by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) who had been pushing this legislation since 2016 stating “We have a moral duty to address these crises and we absolutely must address the funding ahead of time, rather than in the midst of them.” Congresswoman DeLauro finally received support for $300 million dollars with the assistance of Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK-04) and CDC’s director Tom Frieden. She had wanted a lot more, but even a little bit would be a good investment for our future.
Sadly, that was not the sentiment of the Trump Administration which in subsequent budgets recommended cutting the program.
While Congressman Hagedorn presents data that suggests big increases over the years, these numbers seem to be based on constant dollars … not adjusted for inflation. For example, using the Inflation adjustment listed for Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI), updated January 2019, the 39% listed for NIH (National Institute for Health) would be less than 22%.
But those were largely increases before Congressman Hagedorn was elected … the key question is : Did Congressman Hagedorn vote for increases in the most recent appropriation ? And for that the answer is NO — reference Roll Call 367 June 19, 2019. So while Congressman Hagedorn hypes the increases in spending, he actually voted against it.
Another hype by Congressman Hagedorn is :
In 2019, I voted for H.R. 269, the bipartisan, House-passed “Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act,” which is designed to defend against and respond to pandemics such as COVID-19.
What Congressman Hagedorn didn’t say was that it was passed with only 17 No votes … and that this was largely the same bill that the House had passed in 2018 but Senate Majority Leader McConnell never allowed a vote … which technically meant the program expired in September 2019. The program has been around for years and was targeted by President Trump for cuts … but that does not suggest the narrative that Congressman Hagedorn wants presented.
Congressman Hagedorn rightfully gives a “tip of the hat” to The Mayo Clinic for developing a test for the virus. That testing ability is welcome news … however, at present, they can only test 200 to 300 per day, which means that depending how many patients that primary care physician order the testing, there could be a quick backlog. Heck, if they wanted to test every senior citizen in Olmsted County, that would take a couple of weeks. The good news is that in the first 90 tests done, there have been no cases of the virus.
President Trump’s hyping of test sites at Target, etc. will only give access for approved patients to be tested, and the amount of labs to process the tests should be the concern. Presumably, that when the results are known, they would go back to the physician that approved the testing … which will cause a lot of stress at the local clinics who have to respond to the phone calls (ya got my test results yet?) Increase the capacity of test analysis needs to be the focus.
Another fact that is missing in THE HAGEDORN REPORT is a mention of Congressman Hagedorn’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Let us remember that it was law’s passage in 2010, that required private insurance plans to include influenza (flu) immunizations for both children and adults without any patient cost-sharing. Although there is no vaccine for COVID-19, the ones in development probably will not be available for mass distribution for 12 to 18 months … so it is a question for Congressman Hagedorn, will you support including a COVID-19 immunization as a government health insurance requirement … or will it be up to citizens to decide to invest in a shot ? Also, Congressman Hagedorn does not address who will pay hospitals and doctors for their care of uninsured people infected with the new coronavirus as there are an estimated 27 million Americans without health coverage ?
Also missing from THE HAGEDORN REPORT is any comment on President Trump’s 2021 budget request. It proposed cutting Health and Human Services funding by $9.5 billion, including a 15 percent cut of $1.2 billion to the CDC and a $35 million decrease to the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund’s annual contribution.
All that said, let’s give Congressman Hagedorn some praise for focusing on the current problem – and not just echoing Congressman Tom Emmer’s approach of taking the Trump Train to Fantasyland.