Tuesday at an event hosted jointly by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Stand Up To Cancer in the Cannon House Office building in Washington D.C. two Tea Party Republicans, both considered fiscal hawks, reversed course and called for more government funding for medical research.
Representative Matt Salmon (R-AZ), sporting a buzz cut explained that his hair was just growing back after having shaved his head to honor an official in the research department of the University of Arizona who had died of pancreatic cancer.
Salmon who, in January of 2013 told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation that he thought a shutdown of the government would be a good thing because it would force the president to work with Congress and agree to their demands, told the audience:
“I’m kind of an unlikely candidate to be here today probably for a lot of reasons. I’ve been recognized by numerous groups as one of the most tight-fisted people in the entire Congress…That having been said, I believe with all my heart and soul that if the federal government doesn’t lead the way on conquering cancer that it won’t get done.”
He went on to say that the $6 billion increase in spending for the National Institutes of Health that the group had gathered to lobby for was not enough, saying that the current $30.1 billion for NIH should grow to $60 billion by 2021.
A few minutes later Representative Kevin Yoder (R-KS) took the stage and told the group:
“Why aren’t we spending $60 billion in NIH research? Honestly, I’m not a big fan of deficit spending. I’m not a big fan of deficits. Certainly, as a conservative Republican, I believe the fiscal health of our nation is one of the most critical issues long term. But I think I can go to my 16-month old daughter and I can say, ‘I borrowed money in your name to cure cancer’ and she would thank me.”
The rhetoric may have appealed to the gathering but the current Republican budget proposal tells a very different story. The relative text of the proposal reads in part:
“The United States leadership role is being threatened, however, as other countries contribute more to basic research from both public and private sources. Federal policies should foster innovation in health care, not stifle it. America should maintain its world leadership in medical science by encouraging competitive forces to work through the marketplace in delivering cures and therapies to patients.
Republicans are not calling for a cut in funding for the NIH but it calls for no increase either and the outgoing head of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Harold Varmus knocked the wind out of the sails of the gathering by noting that the modest 3 percent increase called for in President Obama’s proposed budget would only maintain, in real dollars, the funding for cancer research at 2010 levels.
h/t: Huffington Post