Just as a new flare-up of Ebola heats up in the Congo, the Trump White House on Friday issued this statement: "Trump Administration Supports Response to Ebola Outbreak in Congo ... taking swift action to combat the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo ... Our goal ... is to contain outbreaks at their source, before they spread regionally or globally."
The release goes on to say the U.S. "is committed to investing $1 billion to support partner countries and to build capacity at the country level through the Global Health Security Agenda."
Make no mistake: that $1 billion is a left-over 2014 President Barack Obama commitment — much already spent and bound up in a multi-country agreement.
So not one new dime has been committed from the Trump camp, unless you want to count the May 22 announcement that U.S. AID is contributing up to $8 million to combat the Ebola outbreak, including $5 million released by the Secretary of State from the international health emergency reserve fund.
But that's a bit disingenuous, too. Just a couple of weeks before that Trump announcement to contribute $8 million, the administration had asked Congress to "claw back" $252 million in unused funds remaining from the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa — the outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people and spilled over into several U.S. cases.
Simultaneous to the requested "claw back," the administration health official who had up until then focused solely on global health security was pushed out, and the White House announced the disbanding of the team he oversaw under a reorganization by none other than National Security Adviser John Bolton.
The $8 million proffered to fight Ebola was announced on the heels of a New York Times editorial that skewered Trump and the White House for having Ebola "amnesia."
Now the White House hopes Americans have amnesia, too, and won't notice the administration's deception to make them believe it is helping fight Ebola with $1 billion while what it's really doing is disbanding much of the work and taking back $252 million once earmarked for just such life-and-death fights.
As of last week in the Congo, 51 cases of suspected Ebola had been reported, according to ABC News. Of those, 35 were confirmed Ebola cases and 13 were considered probable. At least 25 people had died.