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.