Fiscal Conservatism At Work

Just clowns:

Eliminating nearly all the money for poison control centers would save $27 million — not even a rounding error when it comes to the deficit. Yet it is so foolish that it perfectly illustrates the thoughtlessness of the House Republican bill to cut $61 billion from the budget over the next seven months.

The nation’s network of 57 poison control centers takes four million calls a year about people who may have been exposed to a toxic substance. In three-quarters of all cases, the centers are able to provide treatment advice that does not require a visit to a hospital or a doctor, saving tens of millions of dollars in medical costs.

While a single visit to an emergency room can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars (often paid for by the government), a call to a poison center costs the government only $30 or $40. A study in the Journal of Medical Toxicology estimated that the poison centers saved the State of Arizona alone $33 million a year. Louisiana eliminated its centers in the 1980s but restored them when it realized how much money they saved.

I wonder if Mitch Daniels supports this? We’ll have to check Sully and see.


45 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    These people are irremiediably stupid. But what is even more astounding to me is how little fat there is to cut where they are planning to cut. Even I, who am pro government, grew up listening to stories of government waste and fraud. But the places they are trying to cut simply aren’t those places. Why can’t the dems go toe to toe with these guys and hammer this home? Why can’t they demand one to one cuts of waste vs these clearly important programs. Why aren’t they running adds of ordinary, middle class, white parents trying to call the CDC, the poison hotline, planned parenthood, the firemen, police, road repair, nurses or whatever and just getting a taped message: Your Republican Representative determined that it was unnecessary for you to receive the services you paid for with your tax dollars. If your child is vomiting uncontrollably please take him to an emergency room which we have also closed.”


  2. 2
    Ryan says:

    The Republicans conflate the inflicting of as much pain as possible with responsibility.

  3. 3
    El Tiburon says:

    Boy am I glad the Serious Grown-Ups are back in charge.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:


    The Republicans conflate the inflicting of as much pain as possible with responsibility.

    It’s the time honored tradition of how you become a Very Serious Person.
    Just like daddy always said, “This is going to hurt you more than me.”

  5. 5
    Alex S. says:

    It’s an efficient part of the government. It has to be destroyed.

  6. 6
    BudP says:

    Mitch Daniels == Nathan Thurm

  7. 7
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Penny wise, and countless billions stupid.

    That’s the modern GOP for you.

    NO FUCKING CLUE about cause and effect, at all.

  8. 8
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I wish the NYT would open up comments on all of their articles. I would love to see the justification for this one.

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    But the places they are trying to cut simply aren’t those places.

    Department of Pork Defense, perhaps? Billions of dollars transported on pallets and lost in Iraq?

    Ya think?

  10. 10
    chopper says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    penny wise and pound-for-pound the dumbest people on earth.

  11. 11
    Evolved Deep Southerner says:

    A study in the Journal of Medical Toxicology estimated that the poison centers saved the State of Arizona alone $33 million a year.

    I can definitely see where Arizonans would be far above the national norm in poisoning themselves. I wonder if anyone keeps statistics on how many homes end up burning to the ground as a direct result of people’s attempts to deep-fry turkeys going horribly awry. I’ll bet you they’re at the top of the charts there as well.

    But, hell, I live in South Carolina. I shouldn’t be casting aspersions on any other state.

  12. 12
    Nylund says:

    Its much easier to prove the government is broken if you break it first.

  13. 13
    jnfr says:

    @Alex S.:

    Bingo. They have to prove what they already know: government can’t work!

  14. 14
    dcdl says:

    I guess maybe the only silver lining in all the Republicans foolishness is not only showing how asinine they are, but bringing the services that the government actually provides to the light. A hope would be at some point people can move past the generalization of ‘government is wasteful’ and see some of the actual benefits it provides. Then actually talk about what is wasteful in the government like certain subsidies, tax breaks, wasted spending in Defense, etc.

  15. 15

    When will people learn? Republicans either can’t do math, or won’t.

    Even Megan McCardle confused “supply” and “demand” in her “the Nissan Leaf is an epic fail” post.

    I mean really it always comes back to this: stupid, or lying?

  16. 16
    wenchacha says:

    Hey, why should I have to pay for somebody else’s kid who drinks anti-freeze or gets snake-bit or licks cadmium red paint off a Mcdonald’s toy?

    Let that kid’s parents pay for fixing him or burying him. Anything else is unconstitutional and should get Obama impeached.

  17. 17
    Kryptik says:

    This is a concerted, deliberate strategy. They’re undermining faith in the very concept of gov’t by attacking the institutions where it works best, and conditioning folks to believe that the places where it works best are the places where it works worst.

  18. 18
    You Don't Say says:

    Also reminds me of the things they love to make fun of, like invasive species eradication here in Nevada. “Ha, ha, millions for weed killer!”

  19. 19
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @You Don’t Say:

    Bobby Jindal.

    The “waste” of volcano monitoring systems.

    The stupid. It burns.

  20. 20
    Corner Stone says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: What you did there? Seen, it has been.

  21. 21

    The “waste” of volcano monitoring systems.

    Didn’t he say that in his SOTU rebuttal right before that Icelandic volcano errupted wreaking havoc on air travel in Europe? God sure has a sense of humor.

    Yes everything is a waste when it happens somewhere else. Last night on Twitter some idiot (whom I’ve since blocked) jumped into a convo I was having about high speed rail and “I’m not paying 4 ur WONDERFUL highs peed rail system. U have an unrealistic romantic dream of train travel.”

    Um. Right. Okie dokie. And I’m not paying for your WONDERFUL foreign wars to protect ExxonMobil and Chevron’s access to Middle Eastern oil. See how easy that is?


  22. 22
    Judas Escargot (aka ninja fetus with a taste for bruschetta) says:

    The GOP is now –quite literally– killing us.

  23. 23
    andybud says:

    This is just market efficiency at work. Right now, in order to poison us, they have to poison the environment and hope it gets us. This way they’re cutting out the middleman.

  24. 24
    Hungry Joe says:

    You’re all being incredibly short-sighted, because the private sector will step in immediately to fill the need. You’ll be able to choose from a number of for-profit poison centers, where a Bangladeshi with a passable New England accent will address your concerns on a sliding scale: Deadly poison suspected, $250; diarrheal, $150; emetic, $100. And you’ll have the freedom to choose: If you think that your kid didn’t really swallow that stuff, or if she did, she didn’t swallow that much of it — or if you’re a little short of cash that month — you can save a bundle by not making the call and waiting to see what happens. It’s economic freedom through the magic of the marketplace.

  25. 25
    Yutsano says:

    @Southern Beale: It was even more immediate and American than that. A few days after a volcano blew up in Alaska (that they predicted thanks to monitoring) and disrupted air traffic across the Pacific. The Iceland volcano came about a week after that IIRC. Lotsa crow for good ol’ Piyush there.

  26. 26
    Woodrowfan says:

    my puppy ate some leaves off a house plant a year ago. I searched the internet for info but got conflicting info from “he’ll be fine” to “OMG! DEATH! DEATH! DEATH!” It was afterhours so I called a pet poison hotline (I think it’s run by the ASPCA). It cost me $60 but they were very helpful. (my dog is fine).

    the thing is, I could afford the fee. But what if this were my kid and not my dog, and I couldn’t afford the fee? Would I have to chose between “let’s see if the kid is OK” or do I rush them to the emergency room which costs the government even more?

    Republicans really have become solely the party of the stupid, the dishonest and the nuts..

  27. 27
    Resident Firebagger says:

    If we came out with a study that suggested that people who accidentally ingest themselves with poison vote Republican, we could save this program…

  28. 28
    catpal says:

    Unbelievable that anyone takes Repugs serious.

    Can we please get Dem Reps like Rep. Anthony Weiner to be on CSPAN every morning to tell the Teanuts who constantly call in that The Repugs are NOT SERIOUS when they want to close the Poison Control Center!

    and keep off CSPAN sometimes acting Dems like Durbin who sounded a little too Republican this past week.

  29. 29
    liberal says:


    Why can’t they demand one to one cuts of waste vs these clearly important programs.

    Simple answers to simple questions: because most of the waste is in the DOD, which is sacred.

  30. 30
    liberal says:

    We’ve got twin toddler girls, and for better or worse we call that damn thing all the time. Recent examples: potting soil, anti-perspirant, Butt Paste…

  31. 31
    liberal says:

    @Southern Beale:

    And I’m not paying for your WONDERFUL foreign wars to protect ExxonMobil and Chevron’s access to Middle Eastern oil.

    Iraq wasn’t about oil. It was some weird Bush family honor thing (Saddam put a hit on Daddy!!one!), plus our fatal attraction to Israel.

  32. 32
    Arclite says:

    A personal anecdote: My son when he was 1 drank some suntan lotion. My wife immediately wanted to go to the emergency room. I called the poison control center, and was told that it was not toxic unless he drank the whole bottle or something (don’t use this as advice, I’m working off a 2 yr old memory). Since he only had a little, we did nothing, and he was fine. So, yeah, instead of an $80 emergency room visit (my copay. Hundreds and hundreds total cost), I made a free phone call.

    Yeah, poison control centers save money, it’s that simple.

  33. 33
    Ash Can says:

    Republicans are not interested in cutting spending. What they’re interested in is convincing voters — by whatever means necessary — that a Democratic-controlled government does not work, and that they should be put in charge instead. And then, once in charge, their focus is to punish their enemies (viz., people who don’t vote for them) and reward their friends. And get some on the side for themselves, of course.

    That’s their idea of “governing.”

  34. 34
    Ash Can says:

    @liberal: You could make the case that Iraq was even worse than a family honor thing — it may have been a show-up-Dad-who-always-liked-Jeb-better thing (do what Pappy couldn’t do when he invaded Iraq).

  35. 35
    Nemo_N says:

    If I recall correctly, Sully is okay with cuts hurting people. I suppose he is okay with them getting poisoned too.

  36. 36
    Steve in Sacto says:

    This isn’t ‘clowning’ or stupid — it’s an affirmative strategy: They look tough on spending and the increasing deficit is Obama’s failure. Budget cuts that increase the deficit are win-win for the GOP.

  37. 37
    Kyle says:


    It was some weird Bush family honor thing (Saddam put a hit on Daddy), plus our fatal attraction to Israel.

    Which itself was probably bullshit. The Kuwaitis claimed Iraq was putting a hit on GHW Bush based on some Iraqis they arrested while Bush was visiting the country in the mid-90s.
    The FBI thought the claim was dubious, but of course the Bushes pimped the Kuwaiti story for their own purposes.

  38. 38
    Svensker says:


    Butt Paste

    Um, wut?

    On second thought, I don’t want to know.

  39. 39
    Mike G says:

    Of course, there’s always a libertarian solution that’s better, if you take enough hallucinogens:

    The family should be left to resolve it on their own,” Biondolillo said. “Or private enterprise – private companies can contact the family and say, ‘We heard you were hitting your kids. Can you stop that?’ “

  40. 40
    ppcli says:

    @Resident Firebagger: It’s exactly that sort of consideration that has prevented them from cutting the “trapped-in-two-wetsuits-with-a-dildo-in-the-butt” hotline. It’s all politics…

  41. 41
    Svensker says:

    @Mike G:

    Real life, how does it work?

  42. 42
    Cerberus says:

    When all you are focused on is winning the morning and making sure your wealthy benefactors have their quarterly earnings they crave, what would one care about the future?

    So it would cost more, both socially and financially to remove it. That doesn’t matter to the conservatives or their villager cheerleaders. All that matters is that it is rugged and dramatic, involving a daddy getting tough and being serious and that it involves a lot of pain so we can feel like we’re making a moral decision in these “tough times”.

    With the villager’s wank-material running down their legs, the conservatives can declare victory for the morning, come from a position of strength and continue their campaign of dismantling what remains of the social net and pushing that money into the quarterly profits of the .01%.

    That’s what this is about, that’s what all this has been about and it’s why the Republicans have moved from shortchanging our far future to shortchanging our near future.

    The sooner we point this out loud and clear, the sooner we can wake up the low-information voters easily distracted by a single piece of 8 in useless tax cuts.

  43. 43
    someone says:


    The invasion of Iraq was most definitely about oil. Every invasion of Iraq since the first British invasion during World War I has been about oil. Maybe not exclusively about oil, but certainly primarily. This is important history to be aware of.

  44. 44
    lester freamon says:

    If anyone has links to analyses of the real economic costs/benefits of some of these cuts. The $2b in maternal/child care cuts will cost at least 10-fold more in healthcare, criminal justice, and lost productivity down the line.

  45. 45
    RSR says:

    so late to this thread party, but anyway…

    first, speaking of poison control, John McCain after a debate: and Mr. Yuk:
    Separated at birth?

    Second, the service is great and as noted saves money by alleviating the need for ER visits. Such as when our then four year old ate a bunch of those weed growing, really staining purple berry blueberry looking, um, berries!

    I said “^&&$#*#*!” my wife said: poison control. We called, they inquired about the plant, were familiar with both it and the situation, evalutated the consumption amount, and advised we were likely NOT needing to visit the hospital but provided warning signs upon which we should go.

    Kid was fine, no ER visit, 3 minute phone call, but professional advice about a potential poisoning. Can’t speak highly enough of the service.

    BTW, if you want your kids to try varied and potentially unhealthy plant matter, I’m available for babysitting.

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