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Friday, May 10, 2013

Autism Speaks Praises Kids First, Heritage Raises Questions

From Autism Speaks:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has announced the introduction of the Kids First Research Act which prioritizes research funding for pediatric disorders, such as autism, in Congress.
"Autism Speaks commends Leader Cantor for making autism a national priority through the Kids First Research Act," said Autism Speaks President Liz Feld. "Cantor's intellectual leadership recognizes the urgency that thousands of families feel and experience every day. Autism is not a partisan issue and we look forward to working with leaders in Congress and the Obama Administration in crafting a national strategy to address autism."
The bill, HR.1724, is sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS).

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States with 1 in every 88 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested the actual prevalence could be as high as 1 in 50.
At Heritage, however, Hans von Spakovsky and Emily Goff raise questions about the bill:
H.R. 1724, the Kids First Research Act of 2013, sponsored by Representative Gregg Harper (R–MS), would end the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF). That’s the good news. But then the bill would authorize spending existing PECF funds on a new 10-year pediatric research initiative via the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
[U]nder H.R. 1724, Congress would divert funds that taxpayers understood would be spent on presidential elections to pay for new program spending elsewhere. The FEC goes to great lengths to explain the public financing program to U.S. taxpayers, including how the money can and cannot be spent. NIH research grants don’t make the cut.
Further, the funding source for this new program would end when the check-off program ends, leaving a question mark for the new NIH program once the accumulated funds ($232 million in 2012, according to the FEC) have been spent. It would open the door for potentially higher spending on NIH grants in the future. Sure, Congress is operating under spending caps now, but why add new programs when Congress is trying to cut spending?