10/04/2013 11:06 am ET Updated Dec 04, 2013

Republicans Want to Restore the National Institutes of Health?

When a timber company clear-cuts a forest, they may leave a couple rows of trees standing by the roadside. Why? To conceal the devastation. A clear-cut forest looks like a bomb went off. But with that row of concealing trees, passersby will have no thought of the forest that is gone.

Similarly, Republicans hope to hide the agony they inflict by shutting down the government -- by allowing a few popular programs to be restored.

Example: After shutting down the National Institutes of Health, Republicans now intend to put it back -- with great publicity -- then quietly cut it again next year.

Shutting down the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an astoundingly cruel blow to suffering patients, blocking medical research which might heal them.

Normally, about 200 desperately ill people a week will join in clinical tests (trials) of new therapies, in hopes of being healed. But now?

According to The Washington Post: "Sick people hoping to join clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health are being turned away. Nearly three-fourths of NIH employees have been furloughed."

And the research on which those therapies are based?

NPR reports; "... most of the NIH budget goes out as grants to support researchers and clinicians across the nation. That entire grants program is now closed."

Sensing voter rage building, Republicans have decided they now want to restore the NIH, like roadside trees to hide the devastation.

Should this slick maneuver be allowed?

For almost 20 years I have worked every day to get funding for scientists who may find a cure for my paralyzed son Roman Reed. The NIH is the greatest source of medical research funding in the world. If it is gone, so are my hopes of seeing my son walk again. It is agony to imagine the NIH not being part of the battle against chronic disease and disability.

Should not an exception be made in the government shutdown, so that the NIH can be restored immediately?


Republicans shut down the government in an attempt to destroy a medical program, the Affordable Care Act, designed to benefit the poor and middle class.

If we allow a political party to shut down the government just because they do not approve of a law, there will be no end to it.

Interestingly, given the Republicans' sudden interest in the NIH, what are their future plans for it, after the publicity dies down?

Enormous cuts are waiting for the NIH in the just-released GOP budget.

Are "modern" Republicans seeking to limit government, or wipe it out altogether?

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist said: ""I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

Personally, I love my government. With all its faults, there is no better system of government on Earth. To shut it down is inexcusable, unpatriotic, un-American.

What would Republicans say if a Democratic Congress did what they just did? What if Democrats had shut down the Government, because it did not approve of a law? Imagine the outcries, investigations, accusations, castigations -- and the shouts of "treason!"

Republicans now own the issue of government shutdown.

Will voters remember in 2014, and beyond? I think so. Even in the most strenuously gerrymandered district, men and women have a deep and non-political love for our country. By a 3-1 majority, voters disapprove of the shutdown as a means of trying to undo the Affordable Care Act.

And veterans? Those who risk life and limb in wars to protect our nation may not take it lightly when our government is shut down for political gain.

Small businesses and large depend on a healthy interconnection of public and private sectors, like stores at the edge of a military base. When hundreds of thousands of workers are laid off, there are economic ripples, consequences growing like a wave; some huge, like a stock market crash: others more quiet, like the suffering of families when breadwinners lose their jobs.

The National Institutes of Health is wonderful; it must be restored, at once. When Republicans shut down the NIH, they insulted all who suffer chronic illness and injury, and who dream of cure. Every American family deserves the best medicine science can provide, and that means a fully-funded NIH.

But we dare not be bought off by the return of any one agency, however valuable.

We must not be tricked by the roadside trees.