The Democrats aren’t doing any better funding stem cell research–or any other research. Empty pockets at the Next Hurrah writes:
Inflation in the life sciences this year is estimated at 3.7%; thus, Congress’s increase [of 2.8%] is yet another year of real-dollar budget cuts for NIH. Even worse, the way they’re allocating the money, most NIH institutes would see an increase of less than 2.5% under the Senate plan and less than 1.7% under the House plan, increases well below the level of inflation (Facts and figures on NIH budget and inflation from AAAS). Scientists weathered these cuts under two Republican Congresses. It is dismaying to see it continue under the Democrats.
If Democrats want to advance stem cell research, the cold policy truth is that they’re better off forgetting about stem cell bills that are bound to be vetoed, and instead using their power to commit to increasing NIH funding at levels slightly above inflation annually over the next 20 years. As I wrote yesterday, the policy mantra in science funding should be slow, steady, and sustainable.
Stem cell boosterism may be a useful political tool to help Democrats get elected. It doesn’t go far though if, once in power, they fail to act differently than Republicans, especially by failing to adequately fund the main source of American research grants, the NIH.
The sad thing is that one week of Iraq would be more than enough additional funds to have this sustainable increase. I know the Democrats tried to end the Iraq Occupation, but maybe another tack to take is to describe all of the things we’re unable to do properly at home because of El Jefe Maximo’s war.