Trump Thinks The NIH Is “Terrible”

In light of Il Trumpe’s ‘budget’ that would cut NIH funding by twenty percent, it’s worth revisiting something he said in 2015 about the NIH (boldface added):

A few days ago Donald Trump called into Michael Savage’s radio show. Savage suggested that if Trump wins, he would like to be appointed head of the National Institutes of Health. Trump responded:

Well, you know you’d get common sense if that were the case, that I can tell you, because I hear so much about the NIH, and it’s terrible.

Who says Trump isn’t doing what he promised to do? But I digress.

At the time, I foolishly thought that Trump was just doing the verbal equivalent of nodding along with an idiot–something politicians must do often. But now that we know that Il Trumpe’s most ‘mainstream’ source of news is Fox News (which stovepipes all sorts of garbage), and that he regularly parrots* far-right websites and talk-show hosts, it’s clear he just might believe that the NIH is “terrible.” Somehow, he will have assimilated this ‘fact’ and will act accordingly.

Of course, I’m sure the White House press corps and our political pundits will be burning up the phone lines trying to determine exactly how a twenty percent reduction of NIH funding is supposed to work.

We’re fucked.
*An insult to parrots, which are very smart animals.

Posted in Conservatives, NIH | Leave a comment

Links 3/18/17

Links for you. Science:

La Paz adapts to a world without water
The 2,500-year-old roots of gender inequality
This adventurer found the trip worth it — despite the flesh-eating disease (Preston’s book is very good)
Trump, with NASA, has a new rocket and spaceship. Where’s he going to go?
Proposed Policies Could Make America Overfished Again


What Democrats Need to Do to Win Again
Judge Gorsuch failed our family
Bernie Sanders’ Ideas Are Catching On In California Legislature
Do you have what it takes to park in Boston after a snowstorm? (funny)
Steve King Thinks I’m a Threat to American Civilization
58% of high-performance employees say they need more quiet work spaces.
Our open industrial spaces are frustrating our best people and likely impacting our end products (hopefully not actually impact the products though!)
Monica Crowley Lost White House Job, Now She’s Got One With Pro-Russian Oligarch
Fear of Diversity Made People More Likely to Vote Trump
Richard Spencer’s white nationalist non-profit stripped of tax-exempt status
Chasing Big Sports Goals, Rutgers Stumbles Into a Vat of Red Ink
Behind the blue wall: Claims of bias in the State Police force
Breaking Roads, Making Bank: Roadbed Solutions sees a huge opportunity in the nation’s failing roads
NJ Charter Schools – A Fool’s Gold Rush: Franklin
Trump’s Counties Lose Out to Clinton’s in GOP Health Tax Cuts
Pornhub Says It Will Plow Snow in Boston for Free
Nostalgia: the yearning that will continue to carry the Trump message forward
Americans are growing more secular all the time — which is one reason why Trump voters are so angry
The CBO report demolishes the GOP’s edifice of deception
The real parallel between Hitler and Trump
The Politics of Infrastructure (there’s some stupidity about precious federal dollars, but still good)
Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?

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Resisting Schadenfreude In A Time Of Trump–The Healthcare Edition

I realize that, as a matter of practical politics, haranguing those who voted for Trump while thinking he would help them isn’t a clever strategy. Likewise, there are too many people who didn’t vote for Trump, who will be screwed over by Republican policies to feel good about this.

But Trump supporters really seem to have screwed themselves:


So how about, instead, we demand personal responsibility for their actions? Throughout most of my life, the cudgel of personal responsibility has been wielded to screw over the most needy.

Maybe instead of personal responsibility being the sole purview of poor, single, minority mothers, it should also be the domain of other people too? In 2018 and 2020, we should demand that they do better, that they take responsibility–and one way to do that is by not voting Republican.

Because saving them from themselves is getting old–and we’re no longer in a position to do it anyway.

Posted in Ethics, Fucking Morons, Healthcare | 1 Comment

Links 3/17/17

Links for you. Science:

The Shoebill: Or, the Most Terrifying Bird in the World
In the Future, We’ll All Wear Spider Silk
All biology is computational biology (interesting)
A Lake Turned Pink in Australia. It’s Not the Only One.
Why Are We Still Getting Mumps? Maybe We Need Another MMR Vaccine Dose


Betsy DeVos’ Holy War: Her appointment as education secretary marks the crowning achievement of the Christian right’s campaign to infiltrate America’s secular institutions (must-read)
How Wealthy Donors Drive Aggressive Foreign Policy
The next time you order food, this cute robot might roll up to deliver it. (one rolled by me last weekend!)
BRILLIANT: The ‘No TRUMP Act’ Was Just Introduced in Congress in Response to Presidential Corruption
“Bush Sucks” Was Not Enough Until It Was Really Sucky
The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.
How the DudeBros ruined everything: A totally clear-headed guide to political reality
Most relieved to see bad old Southie get slapped down
White Evangelicals Believe They Face More Discrimination Than Muslims (of course they do)
Federal Inquiry Said To Focus On Whether Fox News Broke Law In Harassment Payouts
The Myth of the “Marketplace of Ideas” on Campus: Conservative speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and Charles Murray are rewarded for provocation, not quality of thought
Liberalism Needs the “Alt-Left”: There is no progressive equivalent of the alt-right. Instead of scorning the politics of the left, traditional liberals should embrace it
Republicans reveal how badly they misunderstand America
The religious right is steeling itself for a Biblical battle on Trump’s behalf
Will the Democrats Unite Against Neil Gorsuch?
This Shanghai Factory Plans to Replace All of Its Human Workers
So many open jobs for truck drivers! It’s another bogus skills shortage story.
U.S. Citizens Now Being Forced To Provide Their Social Media Passwords Upon Return To U.S.
With cuts looming, Park Service closes Ben Franklin print shop, Jefferson’s Declaration House

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In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

Lies When You Have A Crisis

Now Would Be A Good Time For A Democratic Healthcare Plan Proposal

All Your Genetic Testing Results Are Belong To Us!

Bannon, International Man Of…WTF?!?

Automobile Deaths As A Public Health Problem

Contractors, Corporate Lobbyists, And Government Workers

ICE And Freedom

Trump’s Magic Asterisk NIH Budget

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Trump’s Magic Asterisk NIH Budget

Trump budget office hard at work

If you haven’t heard by now, Trump’s ersatz budget proposal would cut NIH spending by $6.3 billion dollars, over twenty percent (the number bandied about, $5.8 billion is wrong due to a slight of hand). Health and Human Services Secretary Price is absolutely silent on this (it’s quite possible no one told him the scope of the cuts–just look at how Secretary of State Rex “Wayne Tracker” Tillerson is cut out of the decision-making loop). But it’s worth noting that, like the healthcare proposal, this is largely about the politics of austerity (boldface added):

We must remember that the Republican healthcare proposal, such as it is, has everything yet nothing to do with healthcare. They really don’t care if lots of people can’t afford healthcare–that’s not what this is about at all….

What they do want is to lower federal spending–and this is where payback is a bitch. In 2011, Republicans, in an effort to ensure that Democrats wouldn’t be able to deficit spend the economy back to health*, forced Democrats to agree to the Budget Control Act. This has various spending and deficit caps. So?

If Republican want to pass huge tax cuts for the rich–and nothing gives Republicans HUMONGOUS BONERS like tax cuts for the rich–they need to cut spending. They can’t really cut Social Security, since their geriatric, Fox News-watching Uruk-hai base would run them over with their scooters (probably while screaming, “Keep the government out of my Social Security!”). They’re not going to cut military spending, so the only big ticket item left is gummint healthcare (they could always remove the mortgage interest tax deduction…STOP LAUGHING! STOP LAUGHING NOW!).

This is the ‘problem’ Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is trying to solve: how to cut enough stuff to give rich people and corporations BIGLY tax cuts.

Trump wants to increase military and internal security forces spending by over $60 billion dollars and not raise taxes, so he needs to cut other spending (while I’m writing Trump, don’t think for a moment that a lot of Republicans don’t want to go along with this). So what Trump and his minions have devised is a bullshit budget with lots of what Paul Krugman has called ‘magic asterisks’–bullshit that’s supposed to make the numbers add up somehow. Here’s the entire section about the NIH from the proposed Trump budget (boldface mine; pdf):

Reduces the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) spending relative to the 2017 annualized CR level by $5.8 billion to $25.9 billion. The Budget includes a major reorganization of NIH’s Institutes and Centers to help focus resources on the highest priority research and training activities, including: eliminating the Fogarty International Center; consolidating the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within NIH; and other consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities. The Budget also reduces administrative costs and rebalance Federal contributions to research funding.

I think this means Il Trumpe would like NIH to be on the hook for $6.3 billion. Note that AHRQ is folded into NIH–whose entire budget would be $25.9 billion. But AHRQ, which Republicans hate (DEATH PANELZ! TYRANNY AGAINST DOCTORS!), has a budget of roughly $470 million per year. So we’re up to $6.3 billion, as Jonathan Gitlin notes.

What’s idiotic is that there’s no way ‘consolidations’ could possibly bring anywhere close to $6 billion. Are there entities that should be cut? Absolutely–the travel office comes to mind. But NIH already runs a tight ship, and to the extent it doesn’t, these are usually to comply with federal and congressional mandates. So this is a bullshit nothing statement–you’re not going to get close to $6 billion.

So what gets cut? Well, the entire intramural research budget (on-NIH campus research) is less than ten percent of the total; this includes things like PubMed, Genbank, and so on. Even if you eliminated all intramural research (including PubMed and Genbank), there is still a $3 billion dollar hole. One way to lower intramural costs–and that Republicans will never endorse, for obvious reasons–would be to move contractor researchers over to federal positions (Title 42, not the G-type positions; typically, an equivalently paid contractor researcher costs around thirty percent more than an equivalent Title 42 position). Increase federal payrolls while hurting campaign contributors? Right…

The extramural budget (off-NIH campus research, including universities) is around $24 billion. About $7 billion of that is indirect costs on grants. At many universities, including public ones, massively cutting overheads will crush their budgets to the point where tutions could rise one to two thousand dollars per year. Or you can cut the number and size of grant awards, which would damage research.

So this is a horrible proposal. It’s not serious, except that ‘Trump has heard bad things about the NIH‘–and I hope someone asks him what those bad things are. Remember: just like the healthcare proposal, this is all about achieving the long-standing Republican goals of cutting taxes on the rich and pumping up the military. That it could severely damage U.S. science doesn’t matter to those assholes.

Posted in Conservatives, Fucking Morons, NIH | 1 Comment

Links 3/16/17

Links for you. Science:

Resistance Is Not Futile: The Rise of Antibiotic Resistance
Don’t let useful data go to waste
Flocks of birds perish by crashing into new Minnesota Vikings stadium
NOAA Cuts Could Stymie Research, Put Lives at Risk
Medicine with a side of mysticism: Top hospitals promote unproven therapies


100 Years Ago Today, the American Empire Was Born
Why we need the NEA and public arts funding
Trump and Ryan fear the GOP faces a ‘bloodbath’ in 2018. They may be right.
Church cops? Congregation eyes its own unusual police force
time to get off the infrastructure treadmill (don’t entirely agree)
These tiny papercraft models of vintage synthesizers are adorable
Google’s Dangerous Identity Crisis
Imagine A Country Without Immigrants
Mystery solved: Addiction medicine maker is secret funder of Kennedy-Gingrich group
Bernie Sanders backs unionization campaign in Mississippi as Democrats draft populist agenda
There’s more to fighting racism than getting rid of a Confederate statue
Are the Democrats totally screwed?
The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is.
Why Yale should shun Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman
The conservative theory of marriage just got blown apart
Socialists and Electoral Politics

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