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HHS in Flint


The disaster in Flint is following the usual GOP governance story arc: Trash it. Hide it. Deny it. Let the feds clean it up.

A couple of HHS’ efforts highlight the fact that Gov. Rick “I am firmly pro-life” Snyder’s decision to poison 90,000 human beings will take decades to put right.

Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start services will expand immediately in Flint, Michigan to help children and families exposed to lead in the city’s water supply. The expansion was made possible through one-time emergency funds of $3.6 million and is one of several steps HHS is taking as the agency designated to lead the federal response and recovery effort in Flint.


Michigan will expand Medicaid coverage to children up to age 21 and pregnant women who were served by the Flint water system from April 2014 up to a date specified by the Governor, and who have incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).  Michigan will also set up a state program allowing pregnant women and children up to age 21 who were served by the Flint water system and individuals with incomes above 400 percent of FPL to purchase unsubsidized coverage.  This comprehensive health and developmental coverage includes lead-blood level monitoring and behavioral health services, among other services.

Combined with his union-bashing work, poisoning a city full of poor and black people, blaming it on the fed and getting the fed to pick up the tab will make him a dead cert. for the GOP nomination in 2020, should he decide to run. He’d probably point to the money spent to help Flint’s residents as an example of big government waste.

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  • c u n d gulag


    Hell, if they don’t fall back on him for their presidential candidate at a brokered convention, he’d be a perfect VP candidate for any of the other psycho/sociopaths running!

    • apogean

      The Dick Cheney to Marco’s George W., if you will.

  • Linnaeus

    I know you’re being snarky, but I really do think that Snyder’s done politically. He’s out of office in 2018 and term-limited. There’s nowhere else for him to go than maybe the US Senate or in the Cabinet of a Republican president. I don’t see either happening.

    • LosGatosCA

      Still plenty of used to be middle class white people (literally) dying to support him after Trump gets destroyed I’m sure.

      These POS Republicans and their demented voters deserve each other.

      Of course the people of Flint don’t deserve either.

  • scott_theotherone

    Is there even the slightest chance of legal repercussions for Snyder?

    • Linnaeus

      Can’t say I’m very hopeful about that, but both the Michigan AG and the US Justice Department are investigating*. I don’t expect anything to come out of the former, but who knows about the latter?

      *Technically, the Michigan Legislature is too, but the committee established to conduct the inquiry doesn’t even have subpoena power. So I really don’t expect the legislature to do a thing.

    • raypc800

      If it were a Democratic Governor he would already be locked up. The GOP would of started special hearings and rammed it through to jail the guy quick.
      GOP Governor with a GOP Congress, investigation drag out, stall and hope voters forget about it. Although Maddow is doing a good job of putting this in the public eye. But how many GOP members will believe what she reports, I bet very few.

    • mcarson

      I’d think that ordering bottled water for government offices would be all the proof you’d need that they knew the water was poisoned. I’m not sure if lead was mentioned specifically, but the purchase orders discussed foul odors and repeatedly failed water quality tests as the reason for the purchases.

  • apogean

    Given the current race, I have to think Rick “Actual Supervillain” Snyder is the prohibitive front-runner for 2020. Hell, maybe they’ll draft him at the convention.

    • tomscud

      You’d think so, but he probably ends up losing to that mine owner from West Virginia.

  • DrDick

    Cthulhu forbid that a Republican should take responsibility for his actions or do anything to fix the consequences of them. Being a Republican if a get out of jail free card, don’t you know? If this actually were a moral universe, he would currently be on trial for the attempted murder of everyone in Flint. If there were a benevolent deity, he would be afflicted with drug resistant gonorrhea and syphilis, flesh eating bacteria, and cholera.

    • ThrottleJockey

      What do you make of the fact that the EPA Administrator attacked her own scientists for publicizing the threat rather than stand up for the public health. As I see it, the Feds have something to answer for as well.

      Nevertheless, many observers see Hedman’s response as tragically late, having known months ago about problems with Flint’s drinking water, yet downplaying any cause for concern at the time.

      In an email making the rounds in several news reports, Hedman told Flint Mayor Dayne Walling that an EPA report leaked in July 2015 detailing high lead levels in the city’s water was a “preliminary draft,” and “it would be premature to draw any conclusions based on that draft.”

      Miguel Del Toral, the EPA staffer who authored that report, told Michigan Radio during an interview last week that he got pushback from the agency once his report went public.

      “I saw what was coming, and I guess the inability to affect that was really stressful,” Del Toral said.

      • DrDick

        I do not know what to make of it, as I know nothing about her. I do note that she has resigned, more than can be said for Snyder, who bears much greater responsibility.

      • LosGatosCA

        There’s an autonomic reflex in the bureaucracy that always says – keep calm, don’t worry, you’re safe, no panic required.

        I imagine it started in Noah’s time.

        It is raining, we’re looking into it. Nobody needs to build any boats. Stay inside and you’ll be dry.

        And in Egypt – the Pharaoh’s spokesperson:

        People need to watch what they say. No need to panic people unnecessarily. Yes, we acknowledge there have been a couple of plagues but there’s no proven link to the Jewish slaves. In any case, the worst is over and it wasn’t that bad. The loose talk about their god unleashing up to 10 plagues is ridiculous.

        • LosGatosCA

          Here’s more stupidity along the same lines with the Columbia disaster:

          According to the book “Comm Check…” by William Harwood and Michael Cabbage, Linda Ham squelched requests for external photos to be taken after the requests had been sent by two individual departments at NASA. ….Ham’s mistaken belief was that the damage was not serious, and that at most it would merely lengthen the time necessary to refurbish Columbia between missions. Referring to the supposed minor damage in a review meeting, she was quoted as saying that “…there’s nothing we can do about it anyway”. Ham decided to quash the request for high-resolution imaging of the shuttle, based on her belief that the damage was too minor to be of consequence.

          Move along, nothing to see here.

          You don’t even have to sell it.

        • ThrottleJockey

          That’s hilarious. Good metaphor. Yes, I agree. We tend to partisan-ize everything, but there’s a rhythm to the bureaucracy that goes unappreciated in these discussions.

          Given that we have a Democratic presidency at least in part because we want an EPA that’s assertive on matters of public safety, we need to give this angle of the debate more discussion. To be honest, I think this is the largest environmental catastrophe of my lifetime, at least in this country. The only thing that might loom larger is 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl.

  • Regulust

    But according to Tyler Cowen, GOP-run states tend to be better run! Imagine how much worse the water would have been under the democrats!

    Michigan joins Kansas, Louisiana & New Jersey as some of the Notably Rare Exceptions of the objective superiority of GOP governance.

    • Linnaeus

      Well, if the Democrats hadn’t mismanaged Flint, Snyder wouldn’t have been compelled to poison them!

      • I blame Michael Moore for failing to make a documentary about the Flint Water System.

      • cpinva

        “Well, if the Democrats hadn’t mismanaged Flint, Snyder wouldn’t have been compelled to poison them!”

        it worked for Catherine DeMedici.

    • Bill Murray

      I think damaging many poor people is a positive in Cowen’s rankings

    • Pseudonym

      Actually, this is a compelling example of why these services must be privatized—government just can’t be trusted to do a good job; let the market decide.

    • KadeKo

      Wisconsin and Maine all of a sudden don’t qualify for the list?

      • Regulust

        It’s hard to keep track of all the Notably Rare Exceptions of objectively superior GOP governance but rest assured there’s plenty of space for the well deserving Wisconsin and Maine et al.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Florida would have a sad, but it cant afford it

    • LosGatosCA

      Tyler Cowen is an ass.

      • Ahuitzotl

        hey! asses have purpose, need and aesthetic appeal. Cowen is a malignant & cancerous cockroach

    • hickes01

      Don’t forget Wisconsin. Here’s a great story about a Wisconsin lawmaker who does not want to hear that her state does compare favorably to Minnesota in education – http://www.leadertelegram.com/News/Front-Page/2016/02/23/Comments-angerlawmaker-from-area.html

      • tsam

        Jeebus. Fucking sensitive much?

        • hickes01

          Only a Walker-era Republican would consider facts “vile and hateful”.

  • heckblazer

    Poisoned 90,000 and killed ten. The same problem that caused lead to leach from the pipes also drastically reduced the effectiveness of chlorination, which in turn allowed an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease.

    • cpinva

      and those 90,000 poisoned will be a life-long medical expense for the state, because the affects of lead poisoning can’t be reversed, only ameliorated to a degree.

    • DrDick

      Poisoned 90,000 and killed ten.

      So far. There still has not been comprehensive testing and lead poisoning can take a long time to kill you, as well as contributing to deaths from other causes.

    • Bill Murray

      According to Senator of the people Mike Lee of Utah, they have all the aid they need, so he’s put a hold on more federal aid

      • ThrottleJockey

        I’m not a Mike Lee guy by any stretch but I agree with him here. Unlike a natural disaster this is a wholly man-made problem by the Government of Michigan. They should pay for this themselves. I don’t mind if they borrow the money from the Feds, but it was rich Michiganders who made this problem and its rich Michiganders who need to pay for it. And if they can’t do it, then impound their highway funds and use that to pay for it.

        So, bully for Mike Lee.

        • DrDick

          Since Snyder and the Gooper dominated legislature are unlikely to do anything ever, other than under court order, for the people they willfully poisoned, the feds have to. I would, however, suggest that we pay for that by diverting all other federal moneys destined for Michigan for that purpose or else embargoing them until Michigan pays us back.

        • Bill Murray

          I’m not surprised you agree. I’m saddened that anyone would agree, but I’m not surprised

        • Linnaeus

          It should be noted that the bill that Lee is holding up is not a Flint- or Michigan-specific bill. Here’s what it does:

          It would authorize the federal Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to make up to $100 million in grants between now and October 2017 “to any state that receives an emergency declaration … to a public health threat from lead or other contaminants in a public drinking water system.”

          Right now, Michigan is the only state that has received such a declaration, but other states that do would also be eligible for grants. Furthermore:

          The measure also authorizes $70 million in subsidies which could be used to back more than $700 million in low-interest financing for water infrastructure projects through a newly created fund — some of which could be used in Flint — but which is intended to spark repairs and replacement of aging water systems across the U.S.

          The bill also authorizes $50 million for public health — though that funding is not specific to Flint — including $17.5 million to monitor the health effects of lead contamination in municipal water, along with allowing Michigan to use other funding to repay earlier federal loans taken out by Flint for work on its water system.

          If Mike Lee doesn’t like it, he can vote against it.

  • Linnaeus

    Good ProPublica piece on how Snyder and the Michigan legislature went around the 2012 referendum that rejected the emergency manager law.

  • marduk

    Don’t worry guys, Kevin Drum assures us that everything is fine!

    • LosGatosCA

      When you look up useful idiot in the dictionary, Drum’s picture is right there.

      Of all people you would think he would be the one to say: with lead – better safe than sorry.

      What’s the upside of Drum’s column? Really? Even if he’s stupid enough to think that, you would think he’d have enough common sense to refrain from publishing that column.

      • the one to say: with lead – better safe than sorry

        No sheet.

        Maybe there’ll be an increase in brain-damaged “superpredators” in Flint in the next few yrs.

        Speaking of (metaphorical) things in the water, Drum, unless The Wiki lies, lives in Irvine, which could explain plenty.

    • Amazing. And his use of the first person plural is just pwecious.

  • cpinva

    Snyder should be required to drink nothing but water from those Flint pipes, and only that water should be allowed to be used in any cooking he does at home. oh, and should he have any affairs at his home, only that water will be allowed to be used/served. make sure all his elite pals get a taste as well.

    • Throw in enemas from Flint-wasser & I’m behind you 100%right there w/ you.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Or enemas from Eminem.

  • Obviously a federal equivalent to Mich.’s emergency manager law (I s’pose an Amendment would be necessary.) is needed, whereby the Prez can appoint a “Czar” to impose whatever’s needed on any state that’s killing/letting die its own people or can’t make its finances work after a few yrs. of tax breaks for the rich & program cutting.

    • ThrottleJockey

      And that’s exactly why the rest of the country shouldn’t pay for it. Gov. Snyder wants cake? Well let him and his cronies eat cake!

  • mcarson

    Blood level testing is useless in most situations, and gives people a false sense of security. You won’t test positive for lead through a blood test once you stop drinking the leaded water. Can’t remember the time frame, but it’s less than a week after exposure. I’m assuming they’ll do hair analysis, they can take a hair, cut it into lengths approximating 3 to 6 month intervals and develop an exposure profile for anyone who currently has the hair that was on their head when they were exposed. So for Flint residents about 2 inches ought to work. Really short hair, especially for boys, is common among black people, so not everyone can be tested this way.
    The blood monitoring is important, it’s possible to fix a branch line so all houses down line are safe and then have something happen to screw it all up again, but it’s not going to let you assess the cumulative exposure, which is what causes the majority of permanent impairment.
    If I know this, the government must, but it’s never talked about on TV. Over and over again I see interviews with mothers detailing their kids problems, and then saying the kids blood levels are now normal so they will soon regain lost skills. They probably won’t. Lead is polio, not the flu.

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