The Congressman Who Cried Ebola
Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) left the fraught halls of Congress to return to his home district in the heartland, this weekend, but had no time to spare for homecoming vacation activities.
By Monday, Rokita had taken to the airwaves, specifically the Garrison radio program (WIBC-FM, Indianapolis), to sound an alarum for his constituents. According to the US Office of Refugee Resettlement, Hoosiers have found it in their hearts to resettle 245 Central American refugee children in Indiana.
Rep. Rokita wanted to let his people know that was a really terrible idea, because . . . EBOLA! for God’s sake.
Rokita, who is not a doctor, cited his colleague Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), who is a doctor, as the authority upon whom his wild speculations concerns rest. Dr. Larry Bucshon, it should be noted, is also that rarest of physicians—the doctor who is a “lifelong friend of coal.”
Here’s how Rep. Rokita characterized his and Rep. Bucshon’s concerns over the public health risk associated with taking in potentially pestilential children:
He said, look, we need to know just from a public-health standpoint, with Ebola circulating and everything else—no, that’s my [Rokita] addition to it, not necessarily his [Bucshon]—but he [Bucshon] said we need to know the condition of these kids.
This, despite the fact that the US Office of Refugee Resettlement guarantees that all children receive vaccinations and thorough medical screenings before being released to family or sponsors.
Poppycock! says Rokita who believes that we should keep all of those kids corralled in one place:
If we believe that a majority of them should be reunited with their parents in their countries, letting them diffuse into the community is just going to be harder to get them to the hearing, harder to find out where they are, who they are.
For those of his constituents who might be a little too sophisticated for the Ebola fear-mongering, Rokita has a more down-to-Earth reason for not allowing refugee kids to be resettled in Indiana: property taxes. All of these kids, he explains, are going to wind up in public schools and “ultimately your property taxes are going to go up.”
Except that Indiana schools are funded by state sales and income taxes. Not property taxes.
If the name Todd Rokita sounds vaguely familiar, you might remember him as the chauvinist swashbuckler who reprimanded CNN journalist Carol Costello about her barbed questions during last Fall’s government shutdown, saying “Carol, you’re beautiful, but you have to be honest as well.”
Well, Rep. Rokita, you’re not beautiful but you still have to be honest.