One of the deepest expressions of our government’s policies is the federal budget, the allocation of our tax dollars to various programs, voted each year by Congress. In the past few years more than half of the 1.15 trillion dollar Congressional budgets have been directed toward pentagon spending, including nuclear weapons and foreign wars. This has been done by cutting all those programs that provide the services and infrastructure our people need – in housing, education, transportation, healthcare, environmental protection and other critical areas. In addition corporations have been given hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks.
The Trump/Republican budget proposals intensify this redistribution of the nation’s public wealth, further cutting major domestic programs such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health, in order to increase military spending by an outrageous $54 billion. The chief beneficiaries of this budget shift are the military contractors with their monopoly, cost plus, no audit contracts.
Fighting back requires putting forward a different budget, that invests in people. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has indeed developed such an alternative budget, the People’s Budget; A Roadmap for Resistance; This closes corporate tax loopholes, cuts Pentagon accounts, and shifts hundreds of billions of dollars into job-creating infrastructure repair and renewal, human services programs in education, housing, veterans affairs and other critical areas. Below are some of the benefits of the People’s Budget that would accrue to Massachusetts residents:
The Burden of Future Illness from Starving NIH Budgets in order to Fund Wasteful and Dangerous Weapons Spending
Talk at the May 31, 2017 Rally against Trump Budget and for the People’s Budget
Many Americans understand the dangers we face from the Trump/Republican cuts in the Affordable Care Act and the cuts in Medicaid. However, even the best current medical care remains inadequate for major areas of human disease, such as stroke, arthritis, and Alzheimer’ disease. The Trump Republican budget not only cuts in our current healthcare, but sabotages our ability to lessen increased burden of ill health and disease that will be inflicted on us and our children in future years, from the proposed cuts in biomedical research (18.5%) and EPA regulatory capacity (30%). According to Budget Director Mulvaney, these cuts are in order to finance an enormous increase in military spending (NY Times, Thursday, 3-23, Section 1).
In the period following WWII we launched a number of social inventions leading to robust and widespread federally funded scientific research - the National Institutes of Health was established to channel tax dollars into biomedical research in universities and hospitals, and the National Science Foundation to channel public funds into mathematics, physic, chemistry, geology, and subsequently computer science.
Close behind in alleviating human suffering has been the prevention of disease through Environmental Protection Agency regulation, including lead poisoning in children, toxicity disease from pesticide and toxic chemical pollution, environmental forms of lung disease seen most closely in the occupational forms such as Black Lung and Brown Lung.
These endeavors were enormously successful and productive and led to a vast variety of scientific, medical and technological development that raised up the quality of life for most Americans.
The development of antibiotics, the invention of the computer, the establishment of the Internet all depended on taxpayer funds channeled to basic research endeavors
At present the institutions that surround us receives a little more than $1 billion The research focuses on major health problems that afflicts Americans – heart disease, stroke, arthritis’s, all forms of cancer, neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, It also provides a major source of employment. The many thousands of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that carry out this research are able to do it because their salaries and tuition are paid for from the federal budget, most notably the NIH.
Across the total US $30 billion dollars is being invested in biomedical research. This is a pittance compared to the real need, and compared to the more than $600 billion the country is spending yearly for the Pentagon. What’s needed is a 10-fold increase – instead Trumps proposes a 20% cut, the largest in the postwar period.
Lets examine the situation with Alzheimer’s: Some five million Americans suffer from this tragic and debilitating disease. It brings enormous cost to the entire society, because of the need to take care of these people, who still
Have their motor faculties, and remain active. AS the population ages the incidence of Alzheimer’s is increasing.
The total US budget for all Alzheimer’s biomedical research is well under $1 billion dollars a year.
Why isn’t there more money? Because the mechanism to finance the $600 billion military budget is to starve every other sector of the budget. More than half of the federal budget is going for weapons and military procurements. Lets compare the Alzheimer’s expenditure with the Navy’s plan to replace the current perfectly deadly nuclear summaries with a newest, costing about $25 billion dollars. These new nuclear submarines won’t get us to work, won’t clothe us, won’t feed us, and won’t advance sustainable energy. And they decrease our national security since they increase the risk of an accidental or intentional nuclear exchange, which could devastate life on earth.
In fact, they are an enormous scam- nuclear weapons contracts are one of the mechanisms by which the 1% transfers the nations wealth from the majority to the minority. Cost plus contract, shielded from scrutiny under the name of national security. A $trillion of our taxpayer’s dollars has been budgeted for upgrading nuclear weapons. The Congress or the citizenry won’t even be able to examine any feature of their operations or costs, since they are completed shielded under the cloak of “National security”
These programs decrease our national security, and are driven by an entrenched military/industrial/security complex that resists all efforts to cut their budgets. To make progress in diagnosis and treatment at a rate that would reduce the burden of Alzheimer’s, we will have to begin reducing this enormous drain on our national wealth and resources.