Why Trump’s new CDC director is an abysmal choice

By Laurie Garrett

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new boss, Dr. Robert Redfield, who ignited controversy because of his dubious qualifications for the job and the over-the-top salary offer that came with it. Initially slated to earn $375,000 a year, Redfield faced questions from Democrats, led by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, and last week agreed to work for $209,700 instead.

“Dr. Redfield did not want his compensation to become a distraction from the important work of the CDC and asked that his salary be reduced,” Caitlin Oakley, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Tuesday night.

Redfield’s original salary was unusually, astoundingly high. Redfield’s boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar makes only $175,300, and most scientists and physicians working in HHS make less than $170,000 a year.

I scrutinized nearly 1,000 pages of payroll listings at the Department of Health and Human Services, and found few CDC employees who earn more than $150,000 annually. Some make considerably more than that, thanks to Title 42, a policy that gives federal agencies flexibility on salary limits in order to lure outstanding scientists and other professionals into government work.

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