Personal Attacks Ratchet Up As Politics Collide With Health Care – Kaiser Health News

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Dr. Anthony Fauci hits back at comments made by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). And Democrats are furious at Republicans who blame President Joe Biden for pandemic woes at the same time they resist mitigation efforts. News outlets also report on the status of the spending bill.
The Hill: Fauci Calls Ron Johnson's AIDS Comment 'Preposterous': 'I Don't Have Any Clue Of What He's Talking About'
Anthony Fauci on Sunday said Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) comments that the infectious diseases expert “overhyped” the AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic are “preposterous,” adding, “I don’t have any clue of what he’s talking about.” Asked about Johnson’s comments by co-host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Fauci said he did not know how to respond to such a remark considering the high death tolls caused by both AIDS and COVID-19.“How do you respond to something as preposterous as that? Overhyping AIDS? It's killed over 750,000 Americans and 36 million people worldwide. How do you overhype that? Overhyping COVID? It's already killed 780,000 Americans and over 5 million people worldwide,” Fauci said. “So I don't have any clue of what he's talking about,” he added. (Schnell, 12/5)
The Hill: Democrats Livid Over GOP's COVID-19 Attacks On Biden
Democrats are up in arms this month over GOP charges that President Biden is to blame for the prolonged COVID-19 crisis. They argue that Republicans, from former President Trump to his most vocal allies in Congress and in state capitals, bear plenty of responsibility for public resistance to masks and vaccines, noting the opposition to those leading mitigation efforts comes overwhelmingly from the right. The criticism of masks and vaccines has sabotaged Biden’s efforts to get the nation past the pandemic, some argue. (Lillis, 12/4)
In case you missed it: Dr. Fauci’s editorial on World AIDS Day —
Nature: Victories Against AIDS Have Lessons For COVID-19
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a milestone of another global scourge has largely escaped the spotlight. It has been 40 years since the earliest reports of what ultimately became known as AIDS, in 1981. I initially dismissed the first report as a curiosity and probably a fluke, but another a month later, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, changed my mind and the direction of my career. Against the advice of my mentors, I shifted my research focus to understanding why young, healthy men were being beset by unusual conditions. I remember anxiously awaiting results essential in the fight against a disease that brought on so many seemingly unrelated symptoms: pneumonia, blindness, skin lesions, dementia. (Dr. Anthony Fauci, 11/29)
Meanwhile, also happening on Capitol Hill —
The Hill: Democrats See Christmas Goal Slipping Away 
The goal for Democrats was to pass President Biden's sweeping climate and social spending package by Christmas, but that is slipping away as the Senate bogs down in one time-consuming fight after another. Democratic senators are growing increasingly doubtful that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will be able to meet his Christmas deadline because several major disagreements are holding up the Build Back Better Act, including a fight over lifting the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. (Bolton, 12/6)
The Wall Street Journal: Congress Races To Finish Legislation To-Do List By Year-End
Congress is racing against the clock to complete a series of must-pass pieces of legislation, with Democrats also pushing to finish their roughly $2 trillion social and climate policy legislation by the end of the year. The scramble is coming as President Biden confronts low polling numbers and high inflation, and as Democrats are increasingly worried about their ability to retain the majority in the House in the midterms next year. Lawmakers are under pressure to pass the bills ahead of contentious campaigning that will start in earnest in coming months. (Andrews, 12/5)
Politico: Ire Over Pharmacy Middlemen Fuels Lobbying Blitz
Lobbyists for drugmakers, pharmacists and large employers are blanketing Congress with calls, emails and advertisements, pressing lawmakers to rein in pharmaceutical middlemen, who they say are behind soaring drug costs. The effort to paint pharmacy benefit managers as villains has sparked a multimillion-dollar campaign to influence Democrats, who are racing to finish their massive social spending bill and eager to show they are taking on the powerful drug industry and lowering out-of-pocket costs for Americans. (Wilson, 12/4)
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