CDC becomes a chew toy for the teachers' unions

The Centers for Disease Control, which bills itself to the public as an agency all about "science," is actually pretty political.

So in late February, when the agency released its disappointing recommendations to slow and halt school re-openings, despite the pandemic passing its peak, the obvious options for outdoor learning, and the success of school reopenings in Europe, and among private schools here, many assumed they were just a little slow on the uptake, and maybe going by their outdated research.

Nope, they were parroting what the American Federation of Teachers told them to say, word for word at times, according to a report in the New York Post:

The American Federation of Teachers lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on, and even suggested language for, the federal agency’s school-reopening guidance released in February.

The powerful teachers union’s full-court press preceded the federal agency putting the brakes on a full re-opening of in-person classrooms, emails between top CDC, AFT and White House officials show.

The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust and provided to The Post.

The Post described a "flurry" of emails between not just Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Biden's newly appointed CDC director and union bigs, with plenty of gushy praises in the lovey-dovey exchanges, but also the White House, which then very much played a part in the weird CDC behavior in the month of February following the exchanges.

Walensky, recall, had been in trouble with this bunch, because when she first came on the job, she did say schools could safely re-open and teachers did not have to be vaccinated.

Then the unions got involved, and she took a U-turn. Remember this?

Following weeks of standoff in some cities and states where teachers unions are demanding vaccines as a condition of reopening, the issue came to a head Wednesday when Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said vaccination of teachers “is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.”

But in a juggling of positions, the White House declined to back Walensky, saying she was speaking “in her personal capacity.” Asked Friday about her earlier comments, Walensky punted.

Nope, she was speaking science at the time and certainly in an official capaicty, and now the emails indicate that the union set her to rights.

Then Joe himself, recall, in an unusual move, tweeted this weird public service message featuring her below. 

I wrote about the strangeness of the whole thing here, arguing that Walensky's bizarre smiling visage as she commanded more masks and lockdowns came off as strangely insincere at a time when the public was beginning to suspect a "COVID-Industrial complex" at work, and she looked like a puppet ... of someone.

Instead of seeming like someone medically trustworthy, she comes off as kind of a screwball commercial actor, insincere but grinning, or else a lowly customer service representative spouting the company line, or worst of all, maybe someone who likes the sort of situation she's touting with a commercial interest in permanent lockdowns.

That's bad, because it's what the public already is suspecting.

No kidding.

The details of the New York Post piece are actually pretty shocking as you get deep into the weeds of it:

“Thank you again for Friday’s rich discussion about forthcoming CDC guidance and for your openness to the suggestions made by our president, Randi Weingarten, and the AFT,” wrote AFT senior director for health issues Kelly Trautner in a Feb 1 email — which described the union as the CDC’s “thought partner.”

“We were able to review a copy of the draft guidance document over the weekend and were able to provide some initial feedback to several staff this morning about possible ways to strengthen the document,” Trautner continued. “… We believe our experiences on the ground can inform and enrich thinking around what is practicable and prudent in future guidance documents.”

So is this an agency that works for the benefit of public, or an agency that takes its "science," health advice, and marching orders from the teachers' unions?  Word for word? People like the lady in this picture of health, whose very union is now commanding the Centers for Disease Control about what public health orders to issue? Or him? I bring it up because among union leaders, obesity, a self-induced COVID co-morbidity, is common. Some of these union officials obviously know nothing about health and certainly don't follow health-based guidelines even on themselves. They sure as heck aren't going to know more than the CDC would know about infectious diseases. But with political tools like Walensky in place, they do.

Yes, there is an argument to make, and the leftists who love these unions will make it, that the union members' "experiences on the ground" were all that this exchange was about. That, too is highly questionable, given that union officials aren't themselves actual teachers, and more to the point, have political interests that supercede any science that they abhor.

What are their political interests? What they've shown us now is that they are big on the bunny-slipper commute for their members, as AT's Andrea Widburg aptly put it, doing very little work, taking a full salary with bennies, and making themselves even less accountable for their failures to effectively teach their students at any respectable level. Anything that can achieve that political aim for their members -- big salaries, gargantuan pensions, long vacays, and very little work, is the unions' political agenda for itself.

And incredibly, the CDC took that "advice," from this union fully corrupted by self-interest, a known Washington lobby, and put it forward to the public as "science." No pushback. No concealing it. Not telling the public of course about who was telling them under the table to say it.

Anybody going to trust anything the CDC says from here on out? Every health guideline they issue has now got to be checked for lobbyists writing it. 

The backdrop here is interesting, too.

According to this July 2020 report from Stat, which seems like a leftist publication, but a pretty intelligent one, the CDC is actually a malleable outfit, given that its headquarters are in Atlanta, rather than Washington, D.C. The article accuses Trump administration officials of manipulating them, but the same case is clearly true for union officials dictating their recommendations to the Biden administration, and who knows if they did the same earlier with Trump. CDC denizens don't actually know a lot about Washington power politics, the article says. They're an agency that up until recently has been ignored.

“The directors are often between a rock and a hard place, they are trying to make the case in Washington … for what the evidence-based approaches would be, and encountering politics, and then trying to explain back at the agency how some of the recommendations that are being made [by the CDC] may not be possible given the political environment,” said John Auerbach, the president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health and a former associate director of the CDC.
 
That tension has been on full display in recent days as CDC Director Robert Redfield has attempted to defend the CDC’s school reopening guidelines amid calls from Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to significantly water them down. Political pressure from the White House forced the CDC to shelve similar guidelines on reopening community spaces, like churches. A senior HHS official even accused the CDC of “undermining the president” after it released a report on the risk of coronavirus for pregnant women.

 Were union officials pressuring the CDC to keep schools closed even during the Trump administration? The Trump administration got pushback for its supposed interference, but the Biden administration and its union buddies got only gushing love notes. Yet they certainly had an interest in ousting President Trump from office before the election, that was their agenda at the time. Would be interesting to see the FOIA documents from those months, too.

Bottom line here is that the CDC has become a chew toy for the teachers unions. A power void of lobbying influence, described by Stat, has clearly been filled, and maybe was filled long ago.

This isn't the way you operate a science- and evidence-based government public-health agency. No lobbyist should ever be allowed near an agency of this kind, it should be a federal violation bustable with examples. Yet under Biden, the unions not only are lobbying for what eventually becomes 'science,' they are actually calling the shots. And CDC lets them, showing no pride whatever. This agency doesn't work for the public. With this New York Post report, it's pretty clear that CDC is nothing but a lackey for the unions.

Congressional hearing should be held on every last CDC recommendation at this point. The CDC officials involved in this lovefest should be fired, and the Biden administration officials involved should be booted.

Image: Twitter screen shot

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