For NIH Budget, Smaller Is Better

by Andrew Stiles

I recently interviewed Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), the number-two Republican in the Senate, who outlined some of the new spending measures Democrats are requesting in negotiations over the debt limit. For example, they want an additional $10 billion to fund research grants overseen by the National Institute of Health (NIH). As it turns out, “research” is a rather grandiose term for many of the projects that NIH funds. A recent investigation conducted by the Traditional Values Coalition uncovered “more than half a billion in grant monies” that went toward “research” that most taxpayers would, presumably, consider “non-essential.” For example:

  • $154,500 spent asking individuals to mail in their toenails in an effort to research how much toenail nicotine is present versus saliva swabbing, at a cost of $154.50 per batch of toenails.      
  • $163,500 spent seeking to explain the “drug-using and sexual behaviors among men who have sex with men (MSM) during a circuit party.”        
  • $1.2 million spent since 2003 trying to find out whether a mother rat, if given cocaine, will abandon her babies.

And the kicker:

  • At least $9.4 million spent on a ten-year study that included a survey of gay men to determine average penis sizes, “to better understand the real individual-level consequences of living in a penis-centered society.”     

So anyone suggesting that we dump another $10 billion into this nonsense is clearly compensating for something.