Jul 9th 2011

GOP Budget Cuts Would Weaken American Defenses, Risk Thousands of Lives

by Robert Creamer

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on amazon.com.
The budget approved by all but four House Republicans this spring would weaken America's defenses and risk thousands of lives.

Now that's not your typical Progressive attack on the Republicans' budget priorities - but it's entirely true.

I'm not arguing that the Republicans have proposed cutting the anti-missile "defense" program aimed at "rouge" missiles from Iran or North Korea that has cost almost $100 billion to date.
Nor am I suggesting that the GOP has opted to slash funding for the massive nuclear arsenal that is deployed to defend America against the Soviet Union - which of course ceased to exist over two decades ago.

These massive programs defend America against foes that may - or may not - actually present a real threat. No, the Republicans chose instead to slash funding for a program to defend us against a clear and present danger - an enemy that attacks our people and kills thousands every year.

The Republicans budget - and its subsequent Appropriations Committee allocations - would slash funding for our defense against the flu virus that attacks our country regularly and on the average kills 36,000 Americans.

That's right, GOP lawmakers have decided that we just can't afford to spend so much money on the National Institutes of Health. They believe that providing tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, providing tax subsidies to CEO's for their corporate jets, giving subsidies to the oil companies, and providing huge tax breaks to Wall Street speculators are more important than the fight against cancer, flu, or heart disease. In fact, they believe so much in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that they are willing to risk an economic meltdown to protect them. But they didn't bat an eye when it came to cutting money to defend America against threats that kill twelve times more each year than the September 11
th attack.

Take the flu. Most years the U.S. is attacked by a flu virus. The problem is that the strains of flu virus vary. Currently that means that drug makers must wait to determine the exact strain before they can stockpile the vaccinations that are required to protect our population. Our failure to vaccinate our entire population - and especially our at-risk population - is the major reason why, on the average, 36,000 people die from the flu each flu season.

But right now the NIH is developing a universal flu vaccine that would immunize the population against all of the various flu strains - and save tens of thousands of lives. The NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, says that the proposed budget cuts would set the universal flu vaccine project back for years.

Or take the impact of the GOP cuts on the war against cancer. Right now the NIH is funding research to develop techniques to decode specific cancers so they can be targeted by new drugs that seek out and destroy only cancer cells. Paul Ryan and the Republicans think we just can't afford to spend so much to stop cancer. Subsidies for corporate jets - that's a different matter.
And the cuts at NIH are just one more example of upside-down GOP economic theory. Ignoring all empirical data, they contend that simply by cutting government spending and taxes for the wealthy they can spur economic growth. No matter that when Bush cut taxes on the wealthy to their lowest levels since the Great Depresssion, the economy did not produce one additional private sector job for an entire decade.

The Republicans believe that investment by government - by definition - does not produce economic growth. Next time they ride to work on a street or subway, or pick their child up from a
public school, or rely on inspections by the Food and Drug Administration when they buy a product - they should close their eyes and pretend that government does not have a massive impact on all economic activity.

Or they should look at economic impact of the NIH. The NIH's project that mapped the human genome cost $3 billion and to date has produced over $700 billion of economic benefit. According to NIH Director Collins, since the NIH was founded, it is estimated to have generated $70 trillion of economic activity.

Take the example of monoclonal antibodies. This technology lies at the root of many of the most innovative therapies in modern medicine. The FDA has approved twenty monoclonal antibody therapies, and hundreds more in are clinical trials. In 2010, five out of the top twenty bestselling drugs were monoclonal therapies and generated annual revenues of $35 billion.
Antibodies allow the immune system to latch onto specific targets - or invaders - in the blood stream like bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Monoclonal antibodies are produced when an antibody-producing B-cell is fused with a cancer cell, creating an immortal line of cells that can produce a single form of very pure antibody.

The technique for developing monoclonal antibodies was developed by Drs. Georges Kohler and Cesar Milstein,
using a mouse tumor line developed by NIH. They won the Nobel Prize for their work in 1984. Since that time the NIH has played an enormous role in converting this promising technique into life-saving therapies and diagnostic tools.
The recently approved breakthrough therapy for melanoma, Ipilimumab, is a monoclonal antibody.

A study authored by United for Medical Research concludes that in 2010, NIH investment led to the creation of 487,900 quality jobs, produced $68 billion in new economic activity across the country, and increased job growth by at least 10,000 in 16 states.
The bottom line is simple. The budget debate is not about "tightening our belts" because we're broke. It is about choices - priorities.

America is not "broke." In the last ten years before the Great Recession, the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased at an average rate of 1.8% per year. That means that if the benefits of economic growth were equally spread throughout our society, everyone should have been almost 20% better off (with compounding) in 2008 than they were in 1998.
But average incomes didn't go up at all, because all of that growth went only to the top 2% of the population. The middle class may feel "broke," but America is not.

Yet the Republicans tell us that we have to stop investing in our future in order to continue to provide tax giveaways to that top two percent. The budget they passed would slash investment in medical research, education, health care and our infrastructure. Rather than investing in the future growth of the economy - the future of our kids - they say we have to allow the rich to "eat the seed corn" of our economy, and gorge themselves on $4,000 blouses, vacations in the south of France, multi-million dollar estates, exotic cars, and tax-subsidized rides in corporate jets.
They say that in order to protect the privileges of the wealthy, we need to eliminate Medicare and replace it with a program that would increase out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors by $6,000 per person each year.

Just last year, the average CEO salary went up 23% to over $10 million -- and corporate profits soared. The top-earning CEO, Viacom's CEO Philippe Dauman, made $84.5 million - or $40,625 per hour. I guess the CEO class didn't get the memo about the need to "tighten our belts."
And now, in their ardor to defend the CEO class, the GOP is threatening to pull the plug on the economic grenade, let America default on its debts, and once again bring the economy down in a heap.

In the next eighteen months we have to fight like hell to limit the damage that is resulting from Republican control of the House of Representatives.

Next fall, once and for all, we must decisively end the reckless experiment in trickle down economics that caused the Great Recession. We must elect Democrats who are committed to investments in education, scientific research, public infrastructure and good jobs that are all necessary for long term, widely-shared economic growth.


Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist. He is a partner in Democracy Partners, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on
Amazon.com. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.

Robert Creamer
Democracy Partners
DC Office 202-470-6955

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "China’s recently published census, showing that its population has almost stopped growing, brought warnings of severe problems for the country. “Such numbers make grim reading for the party,” reported The Economist. This “could have a disastrous impact on the country,” wrote Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, in the Financial Times. But a comment posted on China’s Weibo was more insightful. “The declining fertility rate actually reflects the progress in the thinking of Chinese people – women are no longer a fertility tool.” "
Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: " I remember recounting fellow leaders of the story of a Rwanda schoolboy caught up in the genocide of the 1990s and now immortalized in the Kigali Genocide Memorial museum, where, in a section devoted to children, one can find his photograph and a plaque that reads: ----- David, age 11 ...... Ambition: to be a doctor ...... Favorite sport: football ...... Favorite hobby: making people laugh ...... Death: by mutilation ...... Last words: the UN are coming to save us ----- In his idealism and innocence, David believed the international community would save him and his mother. We didn’t. "
Jun 8th 2021
EXTRACT: " While many conservative Republicans opposed Trump and saw that he posed a danger to their party and democracy itself, they were hesitant to buck the mass movement they had created, fearing that it would turn against them. Some of these same conservatives assumed that with Trump's defeat, the horror of January 6th, and the former president's banishment from social media, the time had come to restore sanity to their party. But the GOP leadership’s continued cowering in the face of what they now call "Trump's base" has caused them to circle the wagons and purge their ranks of those who call for sanity. "
May 26th 2021
Editor's Note: This article is about the Federal Reserve, inflation in the 1970's, and possible similarities to today.
May 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "Netanyahu claims to be acting in the name of the Jewish people. He certainly is not. Many Jews around the world, including me, despise Netanyahu’s racist politics. As an American, I am also deeply troubled by the US government’s knee-jerk support of Israel. Fortunately, I am not alone in this view. A growing number of Democratic Congressmen, Jews and non-Jews alike, have called on the United States to stop supporting Israel’s lawlessness. The truth is that the US government’s uncritical support for Israel has come to depend more on evangelical Christians, such as former US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, than on American Jews, who are deeply divided by Netanyahu’s actions. And the evangelicals’ real interest in Zionism is not Jews’ security, but Armageddon, the end of the world, which they believe will come only when all Jews are in Israel."
May 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "This period in US history could go down as the moment when America’s democratic system for electing a president – the most consequential duty of US citizens – was broken, perhaps for good."
May 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "While reading Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) monumental report “A Threshold Crossed,” I felt a range of emotions. It also left me with one big question. I was deeply impressed by the report’s rigorous scholarship. At the same time, it brought to the surface feelings of anger and profound sadness. It’s an extraordinarily complete study detailing not only the many ways Israel has violated a broad range of Palestinian human rights, but the ideology of racial superiority and entitlement that Israel has used to justify its repression." ..... "My advice to both Israel’s defenders and weak-kneed liberals is​, “Read the damn report.” "
May 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: .... "He transformed a transitioning market economy into a stable statist project that rests on an alliance of his inner circle," ..... "He transformed Russia from a respected member of the international community into a rogue state" .... ". He energized NATO by providing it with the adversary it lacked after the end of the cold war," ..... "He befriended hopelessly corrupt, dysfunctional, and unstable dictatorships..." ..... "He forged a quasi-alliance with China, thereby enhancing Russia’s dependence on the one country that might have reason to appropriate those Russian territories inhabited by Chinese."
May 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "On the face of it, the latest escalation of violence is following the template of all inter-ethnic wars. Muslims observing Ramadan shouted nationalist slogans and clashed with Israeli right-wing groups chanting “Death to the Arabs.” The Israelis haughtily marched with their national flag on Jerusalem Day, marking Israel’s capture in 1967 of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the site of the biblical Second Temple, and of Al-Aqsa, completed in the year 705. Battles in and around the Al-Aqsa compound erupted, with worshipers inside throwing stones at the Israeli police, who responded by firing rubber-tipped bullets and other projectiles, wounding hundreds."
May 13th 2021
"Regardless of how the current and future violent conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem will end, there will be no Israeli-Palestinian peace unless East Jerusalem becomes the capital of a Palestinian state while the city remains united."
May 7th 2021
EXTRACT: " Would the United States be prepared to risk a catastrophic war with the People’s Republic of China to protect the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan? "
May 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human history, ancient and contemporary, is replete with instances of genocide – that is, the effort to eradicate a people, erase their history, denigrate their culture, and destroy their physical presence. Many of these atrocities have been recognized by the victims and other nations who support them. But, with the notable exception of the German acknowledgment of the Holocaust, rarely have the perpetrators of these crimes accepted responsibility and offer recompense "
May 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "The best way to defend liberal democracy is to practice it at home and abroad with the “courage and self-confidence” that Kennan touted at the dawn of the Cold War. This is also the best way to ensure the survival of our own conception of human freedom. And survive it will."
May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Sammy Roth at the LA Times/ Boiling Point Newsletter reports that California’s main power grid was powered for several hours last Saturday by 90% renewables. For just four seconds that day, the grid, which covers 4/5s of the state, reached 94.5% generation by green energy. California is the world’s fifth largest economy. The main grid does not cover Los Angeles County. On the other hand, these figures do not include the electricity generated by the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which is not counted as renewable but which is also very low-carbon."
Apr 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "It is no accident that there has been an economic divergence in Central and Eastern Europe. Those countries that have joined the European Union have improved their economic governance, and GDP has begun to converge with Western Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, Hungary, Poland, and Romania grew at an annual average rate of 3.9%, 4.1%, and 4.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, Belarus and Ukraine experienced minimal growth during this period, and Russia’s economy expanded at an average annual rate of just 0.7%. Though Russia had a higher per capita GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) than Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey as recently as 2009, all of these countries have since overtaken it. Russians today are shocked to learn that they are worse off than Romanians and Turks. Among EU member states, only Bulgaria is still poorer than Russia. With its close proximity to the EU single market, Russia could have had higher growth if it had pursued sound economic policies. Instead,..... "
Apr 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "As far as anyone can tell, the US military is not on the verge of an internal breakdown, let alone primed to stage a coup d’état. But few predicted anything like the US Capitol riot before protesters equipped with body armor, stun guns, and zip-ties breached the building. Before the US is blindsided again, its leaders must act resolutely to root out extremism in the military."
Apr 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "The new report on 2020 by the International Renewable Energy Agency reveals that the world’s renewable energy generation capacity increased by an astonishing 10.3% in 2020 despite the global economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic." .... "In 2020, the global net increase in renewables was 261 gigawatts (GW). That is the nameplate capacity of some 300 nuclear power plants! There are actually only 440 nuclear power plants in the whole world, with a generation capacity of 390 gigwatts. So let’s just underline this point. The world put in 2/3s as much renewable energy in one year as is produced by all the existing nuclear plants!"
Apr 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "When we examined the development of nations worldwide since 1820, we found that among rich Western countries like the United States, the Netherlands and France, improvements in income, education, safety and health tracked or even outpaced rising gross domestic product for over a century. But in the 1950s, even as economic growth accelerated after World War II, well-being in these countries lagged.
Apr 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Some presidents indulge in the “Mount Rushmore syndrome” making an obvious effort to achieve greatness. Normally soft-spoken and apparently modest Biden is making his own bid for immortality."
Apr 9th 2021
EXTRACT: "New ways of thinking about the role of government are as important as new priorities. Many commentators have framed Biden’s infrastructure plan as a return to big government. But the package is spread over eight years, will raise public spending by only one percentage point of GDP, and is projected to pay for itself eventually. A boost in public investment in infrastructure, the green transition, and job creation is long overdue."