No, Newt Gingrich, We Should Not Double the NIH Budget
Anyone who places themselves on the right side of the political spectrum has no business advocating for the blind expansion of a government agency. But that’s exactly what former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich did in an op-ed for the New York Times on April 22, 2015, and he calls himself a conservative while doing it.
Titled “Double the NIH Budget,” Gingrich's piece glorifies the bipartisan era of NIH expansion in 1994, when both Democrats and Republicans doubled the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. The result: a welfare program for government workers along with the researchers and university system that pays for decade-long “science” involving macabre animal experimentation yielding little in useful results, all at taxpayer expense.
No thank you, sir.
This opinion piece is quite a switch from just last November – six months ago -- when Gingrich posted on his Facebook page: “Perhaps the Left should take a look at how the #NIH is spending their current budget—funding projects like rabbit massages—before making another claim that budget cuts have prevented NIH scientists from discovering a cure for #Ebola”
Perhaps you should too. What changed, Mr. Speaker?
Now, let’s get back to the current position Mr. Gingrich is advocating.
A key argument Gingrich makes is that the cost of healthcare for the government has skyrocketed and so, consequently, should the cost to the taxpayers to find cures for the diseases draining the government bank account. But the idea that government needs to pick up the tab for healthcare simply goes unchallenged here. What kind of conservative idea champions expanding the responsibility of a government-operated healthcare system?
The government is a bloated, monstrous entity that wastes millions if not billions of taxpayer dollars each year. The NIH is certainly no exception and it should not be allocated a single cent more until a full external audit of its activities is completed.
Many people believe that the NIH is doing the noble work of finding cures for AIDS, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Maybe in some cases, but certainly not in all. At least $12B (47 cents on the dollar) is spent a year on perpetual, hideous animal experiments that yield virtually no useful results for the taxpayers subsidizing them. We are underwriting “science for its own sake.”
Don’t believe me about the success of such endeavors? The government’s own FDA reports that 92% of the animal-based drug experiments on animals don’t work in humans.
The example Gingrich gives is AIDS research. “The N.I.H. recently discovered a vaccine that appears to cure an AIDS-like virus in monkeys,” he writes.
Here’s how many times the NIH has said it is approaching some kind of breakthrough on AIDS (2013, 2000, 1999, 1994) -- and that’s just a cursory search. We’ve been experimenting on animals while doing AIDS research since the ‘80s. Where is our AIDS vaccine? All we have is a lot of dead monkeys.
Here are some of the ways the NIH is currently spending the money it gets from taxpayers in the name of science: