CAGW Names Rep. Chris Van Hollen October Porker of the Month

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) its October Porker of the Month for his erroneous and cynical claim that budget cuts are responsible for the problems with the nation’s response to Ebola.  Rep. Van Hollen told CNN that “deep” spending cuts at healthcare agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “have made it more difficult to respond in a rapid and comprehensive way to the Ebola outbreak.  They [the agencies] are doing everything they can with the resources they have now, but the cuts they’ve seen in past years, they were like eroding the foundation and it clearly meant they were starting from behind.”

In fact, both agencies’ budgets have increased slightly compared to fiscal year (FY) 2006 levels.  NIH funding increased from $28.5 billion in FY 2006 to $30.1 billion in FY 2014.  The agency also got a $10.4 billion bump in FY 2009 from President Obama’s economic stimulus package.  The CDC has experienced a similar pattern, as funding levels increased from $6.3 billion in FY 2006 to $6.6 billion in FY 2014.  These totals include various supplemental appropriations plus the advent of an annual appropriation beginning in FY 2010 through the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the Affordable Care Act.

An October 15, 2014 Washington Post article awarded “Four Pinocchios” to the premise that Republicans alone are to blame for cuts to Ebola research.  The article pointed out that the Obama administration proposed cutting the NIH’s budget while the administration of former President George W. Bush was “responsible for significantly boosting NIH’s funding in the early years of his presidency.”

Both agencies have directed millions of dollars on questionable taxpayer-funded studies and research initiatives in recent years.  The Washington Free Beacon uncovered more than $39 million that the NIH spent over the past four years on questionable studies such as the $3 million to study obese lesbians, $2 million on encouraging the elderly to join choirs, and $500,000 to study why larger women have problems getting dates. In 2006, the CDC spent more than $10 million on new office furniture for its lavish headquarters and $1.8 million on a “Hollywood liaison” to help movie and television studios develop accurate plot lines about diseases.

In an October 15, 2014 interview with Watchdog.org, CAGW President Tom Schatz stated, “When members of Congress come out and say something is underfunded, we should ask them how many times they have proposed eliminating a wasteful program to redirect those funds.” A March 22, 2014 Government Accountability Office report recommended that that the NIH begin to prioritize research projects that are most crucial by determining scientific needs and opportunities, limited funded research, threat to a population, and public health need. 

“It is absurd to blame budget cuts for anything related to the nation’s response to Ebola.  In the past few days, the CDC has established a stricter protocol for the care of Ebola patients.  Clearly, however one interprets the amount of money spent on the CDC and NIH, it did not cost taxpayers more than a few thousand dollars for a few bureaucrats to sit around and decide that everyone should be completely covered, work in pairs and with a trainer, and have the proper cleaning and disposal practices.  In fact, these practices should have been established before the first patient was diagnosed in the U.S.  They should have been in place when the first patient was diagnosed in Africa.  Unfortunately, for big-spending statists like Rep. Van Hollen, the answer to every single problem is always more taxpayer dollars, not better management of the money that is already being spent.  Years of misplaced spending priorities occurred within both agencies, as well as Congress.  Nothing focuses the mind and the budget or clarifies priorities faster than a crisis, real or perceived.  The problems related to the response to Ebola is a good illustration of why eradicating wasteful spending and using taxpayer dollars wisely is so important.  As the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Van Hollen should do his job and force the CDC and NIH to redirect money away from their ridiculous projects to national priorities,” concluded Schatz. 

For being one of the rhetorical partisan ringleaders in the blame game and blatantly ignoring the facts associated with the CDC and NIH budgets, CAGW names Rep. Chris Van Hollen its October Porker of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement, and abuse in government.

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