Effect Measure

Bombs, bullets and bupkis* for NIH and CDC

Bush and the Democratic Congress are still battling over the budget, although it is said they are getting closer. Getting closer to Bush unfortunately means giving him all the bombs and bullets he wants but not much else. A case in point is the latest proposal for the NIH and CDC budgets:

Over the weekend, Congress prepared a new version of appropriations following President George Bush’s veto of previous bill in November. This new bill includes $760 million less for NIH and $240 million less for CDC than the vetoed bill, according to news reports today.

The result is an increase of less than 1% ($130 million) for the NIH from an FY07 budget of roughly $29 billion, says Nancy Granese, the executive director of the Campaign for Medical Research. (CMR is a lobbying group that represents Research!America. The Scientist’s founder Eugene Garfield sits on Research!America’s board.). “We’re not going to be getting the 6.7% increase the research community had hoped for,” Granese told The Scientist. “We’re extremely disappointed.” (The Scientist [registration required])

Everyone remembers that NIH had a brief period of good fortune when its budget doubled. Because they have been flat funded since, however, the buying power of the NIH budget is now back where it was before the doubling. Since the tiny increase this budget version proposes doesn’t keep up with inflation, NIH will suffer another cut in real terms. A slightly bigger CDC increase provides 2.8% over this year, way down from the vetoed budget bill that gave it 6.6%. Another cut in real terms. The pathetic thing is that CDC advocates are breathing an interim sigh of relief because things aren’t as bad as the President’s original budget. Just pathetic.

Whether this bill will pass in a form Bush won’t veto no one knows. But in terms of support for public health and urgent research needs this one is already a loser. I’m disgusted with the cowardly Democratic Congressional leadership and even more disgusted with the actively destructive Republicans.

One of these days they are even going to make me cynical.

*bupkis: Yiddish: (large) beans, from the Yiddish word kozebupkes meaning goat droppings, from Slavic root koz meaning goat, and diminutive of Slavic root bob meaning bean. Its colloquial meaning is “nothing of value or significance,” “diddly squat.” See Wiktionary.


  1. #1 Orac
    December 19, 2007

    Yeah, we’re pretty much screwed for now in the biomedical research community. The big, well-established labs won’t suffer much; they’ll still manage to get their grants based on momentum and years of progress. It’s those in the early stages of their career who are going to be set up to fail. With paylines for R01s falling into the single digits, applications are asking for more and more preliminary data, which young investigators don’t have the funding in a typical startup package to manage to get.

    Like Robert Weinberg, who gave a speech on this very topic at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting last year, I fear for the next generation of biomedical researchers. I also fear a little bit for me, given that I”m not yet fully established, but I can always go back to being a surgeon if I can’t renew my grants.

  2. #2 Markk
    December 19, 2007

    Sounds like the whole research community got whacked. Fermilab is looking at real 6% or more reductions in budget, i.e. not reductions in the increase, but down from last year. One main new neutrino project junked and ILC gone. That means a bunch of layoffs as far as I can tell.

    Obviously those science hating republicans did this… no wait it was the democrats.
    Kind of interesting isn’t it, or rather disheartening, I thought the democrats had some guts, but they don’t have much. Dodd, Feingold, where are the rest?

  3. #3 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    I follow your blog regularly and respect the credentials of the contributors, and therefore infer its clinical/scientific accuracy. I try to ignore its frequent and rather tendentious political asides. This time, though, I’m afraid you need to give credit to President Bush for the budget requests his administration requested to prepare for pandemic flu. And despite your concerns abut any of his other policies, he’s been very much on board the with pandemicl flu effort. It was the Congress that made the egrecious cuts, and there, I don’t know whether it was both Republicans and/or Democrats who were the culprits (though I have little respect for either party’s incumbents anymore).

    I refer to an article from Government Exec.com (http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1207/121907bb1.htm ). A little background on this journal can be found here: (http://www.govexec.com/fyi/guidelines.htm): ““Our 75,000 subscribers are high-ranking civilian and military officials who carry out the laws that define the government’s role in our economy and society.
    Government Executive aspires to serve the people who manage these huge agencies and programs much in the way that Fortune, Forbes and Business Week serve private-sector managers.”

    A couple supporting citations from this journal: Bush requested $850 million for pandemic flu prep. for fiscal 2008; Congress came back with $76 M. One more: “Though President Bush asked for $7.1 billion in funding for pandemic preparedness funding in his 2006 budget, Congress provided only $5.6 billion in the 2006 Emergency Supplemental Bill and none in 2007.
    The White House said in its report on the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza released in June that ‘although the visibility of avian influenza and pandemic preparedness has waned in the media, the threat of avian influenza and the potential for an influenza pandemic has not.'”

    Have to give credit where it’s due sometimes.

  4. #4 revere
    December 19, 2007

    Paul: We’ve discussed the pandemic flu funding here fairly often. It is mostly misplaced procurement money. Some of it does go to strengthening public health infrastructure but not much and the cuts at CDC and NIH were even more severe in the President’s budget. So the administration does like to spend money for drugs and vaccines but not to make communities and public health more resilient. The Republicans have led the charge against public services but the Democrats have been cowardly on the subject, afraid to say we have to pay for it. Which we do.

    I’m glad to give anyone the credit they deserve and I have noted in the past that Sec’y Leavitt has used his bully pulpit in the right way. The problem is that this administration depends on exhortation to prepare for an emergency event and misspends, misplaces, misappropriates and incompetently manages the resources. Public health for this administration is merely Katrina writ large.

  5. #5 Paul
    December 19, 2007

    I defer to your apparently more thorough knowledge of the history and details of the fiscal events concerning this pending disaster. The article happened to have just been published today in an a journal that seems focused on straight reporting of “bottome line” decisions / results in the Federal Government. It’s presentation and figures evoked a similar visceral reaction in me as you described, but it seemed the President had (at least, this time) actually taken a sustained, consistent and informed stand on this truly serious issue. I stand corrected, and appreciate your civil response.

  6. #6 M. Randolph Kruger
    December 19, 2007

    And of course Revere is quick to discount the efforts of Sen. Frist to get enough money to really do pandemic preparedness a few years ago. Revere really just wants socialized medicine in the US and believes strongly that it should be that way. Some here vehemently disagree as they understand that it will take all of the incentive out of the economy as the federal government will control all money in your pocket, the money you are going to earn in the future and the money that your kids will earn to pay for someone else’s problems. Those problems even with the best estimates of additional care might add 10 years to a persons life, but are they productive?

    Can they pay taxes to pay for this? That is to say the boomers are going to pay with what for their co-pays, the crap they wont cover, the total deductibles for a year? Please, we talk about not having enough money for rent and food as it is… Who is going to pay for it?

    Is there a group other than the middle class available. No. There arent that many rich peopl and they will become few and farther between under UHC. Its also based upon income tax. I think that we always read about someone like Kerry paying only 5000 in taxes. OH, that will go SO FAR to pay for UHC. The idea being that they will pay for me and I them. NOT if the starting point is about 80,000 bucks. They really are going to screw this up. So we grind up money in healthcare and put it into someone that we dont knows tail just so they can “take it with them” into a pine box in about 78 years give or take.

    Here lies John Doe…. The federal government spent approximately 1 million in his lifetime to just keep him alive. He didnt have a job, he was on the federal welfare, he was on rent subsidy….All paid for by someone OTHER than John. He was a worthless sonuvabitch but he had healthcare…. NEXT!

    So what is the bottom line? The bottom line is the grade marker to make six feet to bury you. You will die with no option in life except to pay all your money to the federal government who will in turn spend 1 to 2 dollars accounting for your 1. Then constantly raise taxes and finally cut the program so that there is a two tiered system.

    There will be the usual retort about how much we spend in Iraq, how much we spend on the military. I wonder how much it would be worth if someone takes down a whole city next time out? But hey, they will have all of these nice radiation centers under UHC that will ensure your survival.

    Neutrino’s are fine to have running around, but what if someone is trying to shoot you up while you are doing your thing? I throw that out there because there is so much support of the rights of people who actively try to kill us that I just cant understand this constant diatribe against Bush. Shit, it aint Bush its Congress. So far the DEMOCRATIC controlled Congress has not been able to muster much for not paying for Iraq. Not a good idea not to. But I guess we just have to get hit again. Success is also breaking out in part in Iraq. We also see that the number of attacks is down, peace may be at hand between 1 faction of the Palestinians and Israelis but I guess its just better to bomb the shit out of them. Something else Revere doesnt like.

    Dont get me wrong. I like Revere immensely. He is as passionate as they come about taking care of his fellow man. Unfortunately he believes that someone other than the guy with the problem should pay for it because they dont have a job, a home, or the means supposedly to support themselves. I can deal with it if they dont have a home, kids are involved, have a certified medical condition that prevents them from working. They can have UHC as long as they prove they are actively looking for work. Other than that, sorry

    Better get used to the facts that we will all be broke and the economy a shambles if UHC comes along because it will cost so much and coupled up with Social Security and all the other unfunded mandates it will break the bank completely. Just aint enough little taxpayers running around anymore…..12 baby boomers to one little taxpayer.Just cant see how that will work out at all. Even if you do inflate the economy.

    Think the sub-prime market thing is bad? At least the military IS covered in the Constitution. Cant find a thing about “Entitlements” or “Social Security”. Watch how fast we go down and hard if Obombme or Hillary get UHC in. It will last about 5 years and then tank the economy in stages. Just as it did and has the UK economy for years.

    Do you really want to put your money into a box going into a hole in 78 years or would you rather you enjoy the fruits of your labors? Great place in America, supposedly you dont have to share if you dont want to. Democrats for the better part believe the money in your pocket belongs to the government and they will tell you what you get to live and eat on after they get thru taking care of someone else.

    Forget those grants under this program. They’ll cut them harder than Bush ever thought about.

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