War on Science Spreads, Intensifies. Now CDC.

December 15, 2017

Not just “climate change” any more.
Republicans extend the war on science to disease control and health as well.

What could go wrong?

Washington Post:

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

The question of how to address such issues as sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion rights — all of which received significant visibility under the Obama administration — has surfaced repeatedly in federal agencies since President Trump took office. Several key departments — including Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, as well as Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development — have changed some federal policies and how they collect government information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

HHS has also removed information about LGBT Americans from its website. The department’s Administration for Children and Families, for example, archived a page that outlined federal services that are available for LGBT people and their families, including how they can adopt and receive help if they are the victims of sex trafficking.

At the CDC, the meeting about the banned words was led by Alison Kelly, a senior leader in the agency’s Office of Financial Services, according to the CDC analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly. Kelly did not say why the words are being banned, according to the analyst, and told the group that she was merely relaying the information.

Other CDC officials confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words.It’s likely that other parts of HHS are operating under the same guidelines regarding the use of these words, the analyst said.

At the CDC, several offices have responsibility for work that uses some of these words. The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention is working on ways to prevent HIV among transgender people and reduce health disparities. The CDC’s work on birth defects caused by the Zika virus includes research on the developing fetus.

The ban is related to the budget and supporting materials that are to be given to the CDC’s partners and to Congress, the analyst said. The president’s budget for 2019 is expected to be released in early February. The budget blueprint is generally shaped to reflect an administration’s priorities.


Federal agencies are sending in their budget proposals to the Office of Management and Budget, which has authority about what is included.

Neither an OMB spokesman nor a CDC spokeswoman responded to requests for comment Friday.

The longtime CDC analyst, whose job includes writing descriptions of the CDC’s work for the administration’s annual spending blueprint, could not recall a previous time when words were banned from budget documents because they were considered controversial.

The reaction of people in the meeting was “incredulous,” the analyst said. “It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’ ”

“In my experience, we’ve never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint,” the analyst said.


The Trump administration has terminated a cross-agency group created to help local officials protect their residents against extreme weather and natural disasters.

The Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems was created by the Obama administration in 2015 within the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. Its chairman, Jesse Keenan, told members at a meeting Monday that its charter was being dissolved and that meeting would be its last.

“It was one of the last federal bodies that openly talked about climate change in public,” Keenan said in an email to Bloomberg News. “I can say that we tried our best and we never self-censored!”

A spokeswoman for NIST, Jennifer Huergo, said in an email Tuesday that the decision to end the panel was made by staff within the institute’s Community Resilience Program, who “conducted an assessment of the panel and its mission and determined that a national workshop would be a more effective and efficient way to support the goals of the program.” She said the decision was made “without influence of any NIST political leadership.”

The group is the latest in a series of federal climate-related bodies to be altered or terminated since President Donald Trump took office. In June, the administration told scientists who sat on the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors that their terms weren’t being renewed. In August, Trump ended the advisory committee attached to the National Climate Assessment, the quadrennial review of climate science. Trump has called climate change a “hoax” designed to make the U.S. less competitive with China.


4 Responses to “War on Science Spreads, Intensifies. Now CDC.”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    So “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” In other words, “except where it conflicts with Neanderthal beliefs CDC will pay attention to your Cro Magnon science. Where our ability to punish and destroy depends on science, we’ll use it no matter what sensibilities it offends. And we reserve the right to warp and twist this policy beyond recognition for whatever purpose Our Dear Leader decides good.”

    • schwadevivre Says:

      So you have no idea what “science” means nor what “evidence” means, this marks you as an utter fool whose view of the world is based on fantasy and lies

      • J4Zonian Says:


        What the hell are you talking about?

        Maybe I should have identified the sarcasm. I thought it was obvious, but I guess it was too perfect an expression of Republican policies. Next time I’ll take a simple, logical position in response to posts and state it openly and without irony.

        (Did you get it that time? Did you understand that was more sarcasm? Keep working on it, you’ll catch on eventually. I have udder confidence in you.[See what I did there, with the intentional misspelling? See if you can figure out if it might be meant to have any subtextual meaning.])

  2. schwadevivre Says:

    So it is doubleplusgood to act on bellyfeel. soon the minitrue and the thinkpol will act against the thoughtcrimers sending them to joycamp so the prolefeed will be undisturbed

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