#Science Quotable: Newt Gingrich – Double the NIH budget #unexpected

Even as we’ve let financing for basic scientific and medical research stagnate, government spending on health care has grown significantly. That should trouble every fiscal conservative. As a conservative myself, I’m often skeptical of government “investments.” But when it comes to breakthroughs that could cure — not just treat — the most expensive diseases, government is unique. It alone can bring the necessary resources to bear. (The federal government funds roughly a third of all medical research in the United States.) And it is ultimately on the hook for the costs of illness. It’s irresponsible and shortsighted, not prudent, to let financing for basic research dwindle.

House and Senate negotiators are at work on a budget resolution for the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1, and the N.I.H. should be a priority. Doubling the institutes’ budget once again would be a change on the right scale, although that increase should be accompanied by reforms to make the N.I.H. less bureaucratic, to give the director more flexibility to focus resources on the most common and expensive health problems, and to place a stronger emphasis on truly breakthrough research.

We are in a time of unimaginable scientific and technological progress. By funding basic medical research, Congress can transform our fiscal health, and our personal health, too.

– Newt Gingrich in a New York Times Op-Ed (see the link for the full op-ed), including nice examples for fiscal conservatives!

The call to DOUBLE the NIH budget from Gingrich is fantastic, even if it is somewhat unexpected. Bipartisan support, including from conservatives, is needed to keep the United States at the top of biomedical research.

As a side note, the call to increase support and funding solely on ‘expensive’ diseases should be dealt with caution. Funding very disease specific research will not necessarily equate with treatments or cures. Scientific and biomedical research has proven time and again that treatments and cures are most likely to come out of more basic scientific studies in unexpected ways.

Shout out to Sam for the heads up!!!

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