EDITORIAL: Bilbray’s Ebola smear against Heck a whopper

Behold the cratering congressional campaign of Erin Bilbray, a candidate so out of her depth and so lacking in substance that her only path to victory is to smear the opposition through fabrication — and contradict her own policy priorities in the process.

Ms. Bilbray, the Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, delivered one of the biggest whoppers of the year during a Monday debate at Henderson’s Ner Tamid Temple: She blamed the incumbent and the Republican Party for the spread of the Ebola virus into the United States.

Yes, she really said that. In Ms. Bilbray’s mind, federal budget cuts, not incompetence and an alarming lack of urgency, were responsible for the pathetic reaction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Ebola crisis in Dallas. Ms. Bilbray’s desperate accusations are breathtakingly stupid for a number of reasons.

First, the idea that Rep. Heck, an emergency room physician, would actively work to put front-line caregivers at greater risk is ridiculous. As Rep. Heck noted in the debate, the CDC budget has no impact on preparedness, staffing and training at individual acute-care hospitals across America.

Second, Republicans haven’t had full control of Washington for eight years. Democrats have held the majority in the U.S. Senate for eight years, and Democratic President Barack Obama has been in office for almost six years. The Republican-held House can’t cut any federal spending by itself.

Third, the budget sequester, which has helped to reduce the federal budget deficit, was the Obama administration’s idea.

Fourth, Ms. Bilbray’s assertion that the CDC budget has been cut by $284 million is completely false. The CDC budget, which approaches $8 billion, is about $1 billion larger than what President Obama sought in 2010. Agency spending is up 25 percent since 2008 and 188 percent since 2000, according to Investor’s Business Daily. And in January, the Republican-controlled House proposed increasing CDC spending for 2014 by $567 million — $300 million more than what President Obama requested.

But what really makes Ms. Bilbray’s Hail Mary mudball crumble is her supposed dedication to fiscal responsibility. She told the Review-Journal’s editorial board she supports a balanced federal budget — without changing Medicare and Social Security. The only way to balance the federal budget without major entitlement reform is to impose substantial cuts to defense and executive branch agencies — such as the CDC. Considering Ms. Bilbray believes the budget can be balanced by cutting waste, perhaps she’s aware of the CDC’s misguided spending on everything from streetlights and sidewalks to promoting breastfeeding, seat belt use and gun control.

Ms. Bilbray was for federal spending cuts before she was against them — before polls showed voters were enraged by the Ebola response of the CDC and the Obama administration.

Washington needs accountability. Ms. Bilbray, a political consultant and daughter of a former congressman, can’t help in that regard. Voters should stick with Rep. Joe Heck.

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