For all of George W. Bush’s many faults, we must praise the former president for at least one thing: The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program providing lifesaving funding for HIV prevention, treatment and care in Africa and the Caribbean.
Launched in 2003, it’s gotten antiviral meds to millions of patients, and helped more than a million babies be born HIV-negative to mothers who are positive.
But the Trump Administration’s new budget calls for $300 million in cuts to PEPFAR’s $1.1 billion budget, which would then be shunted into military spending and Homeland Security.
In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Bush advised against such deep cuts as we are “on the verge of an AIDS-free generation.” He also suggests there is some self-interest in supporting PEPFAR:
This lifesaving work also has a practical purpose for Americans. Societies mired in disease breed hopelessness and despair, leaving people ripe for recruitment by extremists. When we confront suffering — when we save lives — we breathe hope into devastated populations, strengthen and stabilize society, and make our country and the world safer.
He makes a good point. (God, we never thought we’d say that about G.W. Bush.)