Paul Krugman has a lovely phrase to describe Republican policies: Eat the future. They are under pressure to cut spending, any spending, but they refuse to touch anything that might cause immediate pain to the electorate…so instead, anything in the budget that affects future voters is going to get the axe.
Once you understand the imperatives Republicans face, however, it all makes sense. By slashing future-oriented programs, they can deliver the instant spending cuts Tea Partiers demand, without imposing too much immediate pain on voters. And as for the future costs — a population damaged by childhood malnutrition, an increased chance of terrorist attacks, a revenue system undermined by widespread tax evasion — well, tomorrow is another day.
He could have mentioned a few other areas that can be cut, like education, and especially science. Republican voters don’t understand science, they don’t support science, so if there’s anything in the budget that makes Republican politicians salivate in a hungry, predatory way, it’s science. So you won’t be surprised at the prospects for the NIH.
For months the new House leadership has been promising to cut billions in federal funding in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Later this week the House will try to make the rhetoric a reality by voting on HR 1, a “continuing resolution” (CR) that would cut NIH funding by $1.6 billion (5.2%) BELOW the current level – reducing the budget for medical research to $29.4 billion!
We must rally everyone – researchers, trainees, lab personnel – in the scientific community to protest these draconian cuts. Please go to [this link] for instructions on how to call your Representative’s Washington, DC office today! Urge him/her to oppose the cuts to NIH and vote against HR 1. Once you’ve made the call, let us know how it went by sending a short email to the address provided in the call instructions and forward the alert link to your colleagues. We must explain to our Representatives how cuts to NIH will have a devastating impact on their constituents!
William T. Talman, MD
The cannibals are out there, and they don’t look like you might expect: they wear nice suits and dresses, and they go to church every week, and they are fervent in their patriotism. But they’re planning to eat the future, anyway.