On the one hand, the whole point of modern U.S. politics seems to be for the candidates to rip opponents to shreds.

The idea that U.S. parties should care more about the country than partisan rivalry is gone. Members of the House, in particular, seem to find excuses to clobber each other even though secretly, they probably agree with each other. 

If members of the House had to unite to save the Earth from destruction by evil space aliens, they would probably do it. But only with a few seconds to spare, after many timid souls had already died from fright.

On the other hand, Zika could end up ranking up there in frightfulness with evil space aliens. It could press its luck with our immune systems and pharmaceutical companies a little too far and get vaccinated away. Or, it could educate itself, learn how to spread more efficiently from person to person, and get scarier.

It appears to have the capacity to destroy the minds of the fetuses of a high percentage of the pregnant women it infects.

See also: Zika virus does cause birth defects

New research seems to suggest that the virus might damage of the brains of 13 percent of the pregnant women who suffer from Zika early in the course of pregnancy.

It also appears to have some capacity to cause paralysis in adults.

See also: Could Zika paralyze hundreds of U.S. adults?

The idea that bickering over how the Obama administration pays for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) programs should delay the effort to keep infected mosquitoes from destroying babies’ lives and paralyzing adults is absurd.

Aside from horrifying misery Zika could cause, if, say, Zika led to permanent brain damage in about one out of 1,000 babies born in 2017, that could easily lead to about $40 billion in lifetime acute health care and long-term care (LTC) costs for those babies — 4,000 babies times $10 million in lifetime LTC costs each.

If Zika led to disabling paralysis in, say, 1,000 working-age adults, that could lead to a few billion dollars in acute care and LTC costs, and, possibly, hundreds of millions of dollars in private disability insurance claims.

On the third hand, we have three leading presidential candidates, and some small-party candidates, running around trying to look as if they care about America, not just clobbering the other candidates.

What if they got together in a secret hideaway and hammered out a proposal to provide a solid level of funding for the Zika fight, and have the battle over where exactly the money to support the Zika fight should come from move along a separate track?

What if Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and maybe even Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, united to say they care more about the health of babies than about party politics, and they all pledged their support for that proposal?

They would look like they cared about the country, and babies, more than they care about polls. They would look like leaders.

So, of course, that’s probably not possible. But why is it not possible? Why is our system so deranged that people who are pretending to care enough about the country to lead it can’t even summon enough bipartisanship (or multi-partisanship) to stand up for babies?

See also:

Senate passes veterans, transportation, Zika spending plan

Infectious Diseases: Low Priority, But Risks Lurk

        

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