This just makes me cringe. In an interview this afternoon with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), a CNN reporter practically snickered at the idea of spending $75 million on smoking cessation programs as part of an economic stimulus bill. The anchor introduced the segment this way:
HARRIS: You know, just about every line of the huge stimulus bill contains millions for what most Democrats are calling job creation and many Republicans are calling waste, arguments based on differing political philosophies perhaps. But who could argue that spending millions to help people quit smoking will create jobs?
No one is arguing that. But as Harkin tried to explain, small investments in preventative care measures, such as smoking cessation, have a hugely beneficial effect on overall health care costs. And he was mocked for attempting it:
GRIFFIN: Senator, it just seems like this is not the bill. We’re trying to get the economy moving, we’re trying to get people back to work, and I’m having a hard time understanding how $75 million to tell people to stop smoking is going to put anybody back to work.
HARKIN: Well, first of all, I would tell you, we put — we put over $5 billion in this bill on prevention so that we can get ahead of the curve and start cutting health care costs.
GRIFFIN: Senator, I’ve got to be skeptical, because what I think I’m hearing from you is, yes, we want to get people off of smoking, but here you go, Joe, you’re out of work, but, by golly, at least you’re not smoking.
Did this approach come straight from Rep. John Boehner’s (R-OH) cigarette-adorned mouth?