Several newspapers this week published editorials addressing the ongoing appropriations actions and funding levels for President Bush's global AIDS initiative. The bill (HR 1298
) supporting the initiative, which was signed into law by President Bush in May, authorizes $3 billion for the first year of the program. The Bush administration has requested $2 billion of the $3 billion authorized for the first year of the program. The House has approved a total of $2 billion for the AIDS initiative in fiscal year 2004, and a Senate committee so far has approved about the same amount (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report
, 8/29). The editorials also address Bush's recent executive order preventing State Department funds from going to international groups that provide abortion-related services. President Bush last week issued an executive order
that prevents the State Department
from giving family planning grants to international groups that provide abortion-related counseling, although he exempted groups in Africa and the Caribbean that could receive funding through the global AIDS initiative. The new policy is an expansion of an executive order Bush issued in 2001 that restricts the U.S. Agency for International Development
from providing aid to international organizations that use their own funds to provide abortions or abortion counseling or to lobby foreign governments on abortion policy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report
, 9/2). Summaries of the editorials appear below:
- Houston Chronicle: The Bush administration's commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an example of how "[r]hetoric often fails to match reality in the political world," a Chronicle editorial says. Despite "ma[king] a point of committing himself to support[ing] the fund," the president has not "come close to honoring that commitment," the Chronicle says. The question of whether there is sufficient infrastructure in place to fully fund the AIDS initiative in the first year "is a good one, but one that has been largely resolved," as the "[l]ack of infrastructure in Africa was one of the reasons why the Global Fund ... was set up in the first place," the Chronicle says (Houston Chronicle, 9/2).
- Newark Star-Ledger: To say that the United States should not fully fund the first year of the AIDS initiative because African countries lack the personnel and infrastructure is "frighteningly silly" because that is the reason why these countries "need the money in the first place," a Star-Ledger editorial says. In addition, the State Department's recent decision to pull funding from a consortium of seven international agencies involved in AIDS prevention in Africa and Asia "justif[ies] continued skepticism about the administration's intentions," the editorial says. The destabilizing effects of the epidemic are "enormous," as are the "destructive effects of making a $15 billion promise that we do not keep," the editorial concludes (Newark Star-Ledger, 9/2).
- New York Times: Instead of using the Global Fund to channel AIDS money, Bush "created a new bureaucracy" and now "the White House and congressional Republicans argue that since the bureaucracy is not ready, dying patients must wait," a Times editorial says. Claims that the money cannot be spent are "nonsense," as "[m]ultiple billions could be effectively spent on AIDS prevention and treatment and help for orphans" or used to build the capacity of countries that currently "lack the ability to run good programs," the Times says. The Global Fund is "besieged with excellent vetted proposals" from developing countries, and if the Bush administration "cannot overcome its mysterious distaste for this organization, it could simply take some of the country proposals and finance them directly," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 9/4).
- Philadelphia Daily News: Bush's decision to stop financing Marie Stopes International, one of the seven groups involved in running a "well-regarded AIDS program for African and Asian refugees," is "just one item in the campaign to please the lunatic antiabortion fringe at the expense of thousands of people at risk of HIV," a Daily News editorial says, adding that the decision "pales in comparison to the howler that Bush's vow to spend $15 billion to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean is turning out to be." The editorial concludes, "When Bush promised to fight AIDS in a big way, we were suspicious, but we gave him the benefit of the doubt. Won't do that again" (Philadelphia Daily News, 9/3).
- Portland Press Herald: Bush's decision to withhold State Department funding from international groups that provide abortion services "has made his opposition to abortion official U.S. policy abroad," a Press Herald editorial says. The availability of family planning services is "essential to the economic and social independence of women worldwide," therefore Bush "shouldn't let his beliefs block funding" for key reproductive health services, the editorial says. "U.S. aid can come with the stipulation that none of it be used for abortion or abortion counseling, and that would allow funding for vital services to continue," the editorial concludes (Portland Press Herald, 9/3).
- San Francisco Chronicle: Despite having "seemingly stern resolve" in his announcement of the AIDS initiative, Bush "suddenly changed his mind ... claiming" that the full $3 billion authorized for the first year of the program "couldn't be effectively spent," a Chronicle editorial says. This is a "curious claim in light of United Nations reports that $8.2 billion for AIDS could be absorbed in 2004, $3.1 billion in Africa alone," the editorial says, concluding, "Mr. President, we implore you to keep [your] promise" of fully funding the AIDS initiative (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/1).
Back to other news for September 4, 2003
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2003 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.