Obama giving up on embryonic stem cell research?

Obama stem cellsIs Obama bailing out on support for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR)?

As even casual readers of this blog easily surmise, I am a supporter of President Obama. I believe he has done a good job in his first term and deserves re-election. I also believe Romney would not be a good president, particularly as it relates to science and stem cell research.

However, I have been critical of Obama for not more publicly supporting ESCR, especially as it pertains to the current federal case challenging federal funding of ESCR. I even issued a public letter to Obama asking him to support ESCR as well as legislation that would explicitly codify that federally funded ESCR is legal,  and comment on that federal case. No such comment ever appeared. I also was critical of Obama for proposing a flat 2013 NIH budget.

In short, I try to be a straight shooter and that means even though I support Obama overall I’m going to blog about areas where I think he should do better.

With that in mind, I now ask:

just how strong is Obama’s commitment to ESCR?

I’m starting to have my doubts.

The White House released a document yesterday a 43-page “Bioeconomic Blueprint” (big PDF) for America. This is very important document.

In reading a White House press release on this occasion, I was extremely disappointed.

The White House only made one mention of one of the most exciting areas in the biomedical field and one with the potential for the greatest impact: stem cell research. In addition the only mention of stem cells was phrased in a very surprising way:

…accelerate research on non-embryonic stem cells as possible treatments for blood-related and neurological diseases.

That’s it. What the heck?

What about the promise of embryonic stem cells?

To go out of their way to explicitly only mention “non-embryonic stem cells” seems to indicate this is more than an oversight.

Rather, I suspect it is a political calculation to avoid controversy in an election year. I can understand pragmatism, but I also am one to appreciate having the guts to take stands on important issues. Particularly with the federal case against ES cell research in a potential final showdown in a federal appeals court (some believe the Supreme Court might refuse to hear the case, making the Appeals Court the final “decider-in-chief as Bush Jr might have said), it would seem an especially important time for Obama to stand up and show his support.

I’m very disappointed. Mr. Obama, I’m a big fan, but we in the stem cell field need your support at this crucial juncture.

If you are too, contact the White House and let them know. You can email here or…..

Call the President

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Comments: 202-456-1111

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Comments: 202-456-6213

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19 Comments


  1. Can you name one thing he has lived up to?
    Whether it be troop withdrawals, healthcare (written by lobbyists), transparency, housing, civil liberties, prosecution for fraud on wall street, etc…does this really surprise you? Politicians say the things they need to get elected…read history.


    • @Rich
      Well yes, actually I can name 100’s of things He’s lived up too in spite of being handed a flaming bag of you-know –what by the previous administration. Here you go. http://obamaachievements.org/list#top

      But to quickly address just a few of your complaints here: Osama is dead and we pulled out of Iraq, The GOP(via lobbyists) made it their mission to gut healthcare but only partially succeeded, Transparency is at an all-time high through on line initiatives and Banks are being brought to justice and fined.

      The clearest current example of a politician saying anything to get elected is Romney and demanding all your needs be met with the stroke of a pen in a sit-com/off with their heads time table tells me that you have confused Democracy with a Monarchy.


      • I voted for Obama. The name Bush makes me dry heave. You’re entitled to your interpretation of events but you offer nothing in that list of accomplishments.

        Take some time to review these items and then refute them. We can blame everything on Bush but from what I recall he’s not President now.

        Privacy issues:
        OUTRAGE: “The NSA Is Lying”: U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of
        Your Emails Says NSA Whistleblower

        National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he
        believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under
        President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA
        has assembled 20 trillion “transactions” — phone calls, emails and
        other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of
        almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in
        the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT
        Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander’s assertion that the
        NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens.
        http://youtu.be/hfS2Op9l3nk

        Healthcare:
        President Obama’s State of the Union: Ten Skirted Issues

        Obama’s speech was a compilation of highlights from his past ones. One
        part optimism, two parts repetition equals one total uninspiring.
        We don’t have the same energy to expend
        listening to politicians, the endless spin that renders fact obsolete,
        responsibility absent, and true accomplishment, unnecessary.

        1) The cost of healthcare insurance. Obama tried to play both sides, slapping a populist spin on an insurance industry gift. “That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a Government program.” He claimed he won’t “go back” on things like health insurance companies being able to cancel policies. He didn’t say that insurance premiums have already risen 22% in the past two years. Republicans hate Obama’s ‘signature’ healthcare reform bill because it unconstitutionally forces people to purchase insurance. Democrats support the bill because Obama passed it. The reality is – by the time it takes effect in 2014, premium costs may have doubled. Frame it however you want, that means health insurance could cost twice as much when this bill takes effect as it did before it was passed. Meanwhile, there are more people without insurance (because they can’t afford it) even though insurance companies can’t cancel policies or deny insurance for pre-existing conditions. This bill merely offers insurance companies a wider pool of customers, with a few restrictions on how much they can pillage them.

        http://www.nomiprins.com/thoughts/2012/1/24/president-obamas-state-of-the-union-ten-skirted-issues.html


        • More…

          financial:
          Holder & Obama’s Propaganda is “Belied by a Troublesome Little Thing
          Called Facts” By William K. Black

          The Obama administration’s record of prosecuting elite financial
          frauds is worse than the Bush administration’s record, which is a very
          large statement. Syracuse University’s TRAC issued a report on
          November 11, 2011 entitled “Criminal Prosecutions for Financial
          Institution Fraud Continue to Fall.”

          Neither administration has prosecuted any elite CEO for the epidemic
          of mortgage fraud that drove the ongoing crisis. This contrasts with
          over 1,000 elite felony convictions arising from the S&L debacle. The
          ongoing crisis caused losses more than 70 times greater than the S&L
          debacle and the amount of elite fraud driving this crisis is also
          vastly greater than during the S&L debacle. Bank CEOs leading
          “accounting control frauds” now do so with impunity from the criminal
          laws. They become wealthy through fraud and even if they are sued
          civilly they almost invariably walk away wealthy with the proceeds of
          their frauds.
          http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2012/01/holder-obamas-propaganda-is-belied-by.html

          Bill Black: Our System Is So Flawed That Fraud Is Mathematically Guaranteed
          “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
          – Frederic Bastiat
          Bill Black is a former bank regulator who played a central role in prosecuting the corruption responsible for the S&L crisis of the late 1980s. He is one of America’s top experts on financial fraud. And he laments that the US has descended into a type of crony capitalism that makes continued fraud a virtual certainty – while increasingly neutering the safeguards intended to prevent and punish such abuse.
          http://youtu.be/i9JfmzUtlWM

          Society:
          Growth of Income Inequality Is Worse Under Obama than Bush

          Yup, under Bush, the 1% captured a disproportionate share of the
          income gains from the Bush boom of 2002-2007. They got 65 cents of
          every dollar created in that boom, up 20 cents from when Clinton was
          President. Under Obama, the 1% got 93 cents of every dollar created
          in that boom. That’s not only more than under Bush, up 28 cents. In
          the transition from Bush to Obama, inequality got worse, faster, than
          under the transition from Clinton to Bush. Obama accelerated the
          growth of inequality.
          Looking further ahead, based on the US historical record, falls in
          income concentration due to economic downturns are temporary unless
          drastic regulation and tax policy changes are implemented and prevent
          income concentration from bouncing back. Such policy changes took
          place after the Great Depression during the New Deal and permanently
          reduced income concentration until the 1970s.

          http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/04/growth-of-income-inequality-is-worse-under-obama-than-bush.html


          • Why Obama’s JOBS Act Couldn’t Suck Worse

            Boy, do I feel like an idiot. I’ve been out there on radio and TV in
            the last few months saying that I thought there was a chance Barack
            Obama was listening to the popular anger against Wall Street that
            drove the Occupy movement, that decisions like putting a for-real law
            enforcement guy like New York AG Eric Schneiderman in charge of a
            mortgage fraud task force meant he was at least willing to pay lip
            service to public outrage against the banks.

            Then the JOBS Act happened.
            Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/why-obamas-jobs-act-couldnt-suck-worse-20120409#ixzz1rarToTFS

            A Nation of Princeling​s and Paupers
            One can easily see how this principle of wealth as differentiation and rationing is now being applied to healthcare. By arguing with extreme examples of ‘luxury treatments,’ and widening the definition of what is discretionary, in fact basic healthcare can be cut back and even denied to those who cannot afford it, or afford it only with great difficulty, so that even questions of life and death can become a matter of the ability to pay.

            $100 to Fly Through the Airport
            http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303863404577281483630937016.html

            http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2012/03/nation-of-princelings-and-paupers.html

            I have others but this is a science blog not a political blog. Don’t worry about me being confused….if you need to see what a President can do when he inherits a bad hand, read the achievements of FDR.


              • Rich – for facts you actually need to click on the links within the one link I posted . Your exhaustive ability to copy and paste opinion is duly noted as Rolling Stone magazine and the like are truly bastions of Science and Policy.


  2. Obama is a terrible disappointment. He campaigned as a progressive, but has governed as a half-ass centrist. If push comes to shove I’ll vote for him, but only because Romney and the Republicans are a complete disaster on every level.

    I suspect that HESC research is going to move ahead with or without federal support. The promise of the therapy is so great that private money will get the job done.


    • @Gizmo
      He campaigned as a democrat that aligns with progressive views, not the entire agenda. So blaming him for your misinterpretation of that fact is no more helpful or educated than saying you’ll just hold your nose and pull the lever in the voting booth. And no, ESCR cannot be successfully funded privately, that is a right wing fallacy. Take some time to educate yourself on the issue at hand. http://www.stemcellaction.org/


      • Mary,

        If you’re satisfied with Obama, then OK. But I’m not. He is a pale shadow of the candidate we elected. You don’t put Tim Geithner and Larry Summers and Rahm Emmanuel in high administration positions if you’re serious about changing the existing political and economic dynamic. And you don’t appoint a weak Attorney General who can’t manage to honor the most basic principles of the Constitution.

        There are hundreds of billions of dollars available for funding ESCR. I’m a significant shareholder with Advanced Cell Technology, and I’m pretty well informed on the issue, thanks very much. The promise of regenerative medicine is so massive that big pharma will step up and provide the financial horsepower. I’d rather the government stay out of it, so as not to concede any leverage to the wingnuts on the Right.


        • So, the “pale shadow” avoids a severe depression and you as a “shareholder”, is not satisfied. Interesting.

          Based on your thinly veiled premise that NIH funding would give the right wing ammo (that ship and all the dragging ropes has already sailed), I have no doubt you as a stock holder would love to see the government stay out of the funding through your short sell profit margin lens.


          • Mary…”as in Poppins”?… it seems your version of reality is different from a lot of Obama supporters…but I guess it only matters what you read and think, right?

            See..
            Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Disruption of Status Quo

            “We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.

            Occupy groups across the U.S. have protested economic disparity, decrying high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. In the past six months, similar groups, using social media and other tools, have sprung up in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

            http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-30/occupy-wall-street-plans-global-disruption-of-status-quo-may-1.html

            I guess people are doing this because they are happy?


            • @ Rich
              You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. I applaud you wanting to make a difference in the issues that concern you and I truly hope that you succeed. My reality is quite different from yours, as I was a policy advisor to Obama while he was in the Senate and continue to advise in a similar capacity on this specific issue. However, I must note that if your sense of ironic humor and dubious postings are a reflection of your investment skills, you should be concerned. That would have little to do with current policy.


  3. I love $4/gallon gasoline and the $5 trillion in debt Obama is passing on to my children and grandchildren.

    I love having Obama and Family spending millions on their vacations.

    Reelect Obama and get the promised $8 & $9 gasoline and $10 trill in debt. We will all be so happy funding ESCR for nothing. Who will we elect after Obama? We could change the constitution and reelect Obama again.
    I love the way he ignores our constitutional rights. Isn’t it wonderful?


    • @ JohnN

      Let’s just pass over the fact that the Wall Street speculators, not POTUS, are responsible for the current gas prices and the debt POTUS inherited from a 2 GOP administration that allowed their buddies to rape and pillage this nation. And let’s ignore the fact that the same GOP administration started out with a surplus courtesy of a 2 term Dem administration.

      No JohnN, let’s just get to the easy stuff like the easily debunked presidential “vacations” argument. The fact you would use that as a talking point sadly proves you lack the ability to discuss the more complex issues you brought up.

      Obviously you got the silly chain letter and then listened to the pretty blonde Faux News lady twist it up into something you wanted to hear. Again.
      http://www.factcheck.org/2011/07/the-traveling-president/


  4. I believe Obama has done a lot and you have to take the context of inheriting the disaster from Bush that easily could have been a 2nd Great Depression.
    Is Obama perfect? Uh no.
    I wish for example he did more for NIH and stem cell research. I wish he’d be less pragmatic, but there’s a lot to be happy about include his additions to the supreme court. We are out of Iraq. Al Qaeda is greatly weakened. He ended don’t ask don’t tell.
    You also have to consider Obama relative to the other option: Romney. Romney is a heartless person and I think if POTUS he would be very weak.


    • This doesn’t sound so great…

      FDA may let patients buy drugs without prescriptions
      Move would increase patients’ out-of-pocket costs

      Under the changes that the agency is considering, patients could diagnose their ailments by answering questions online or at a pharmacy kiosk in order to buy current prescription-only drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol, certain infections, migraine headaches, asthma or allergies.

      By removing the prescription requirement from popular drugs, the Obama administration could ease financial pressures on the overburdened Medicare system by paying for fewer doctor visits and possibly opening the door to make seniors pay a larger share of the cost of their medications.

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/apr/29/fda-may-let-patients-buy-drugs-without-prescriptio/?page=all#pagebreak


  5. I think the non-embryonic stem cells item is a reference to ipscs. I have the impression that “the powers that be” (meaning, politicians of all countries and political signs, religious groups, and the like) have a fixation on them not because of the scientific merits of the field, but because they perceive them as a way out of the controversy. I don’t think political expediency is a good rule of thumb to manage strategic funding in science, though 🙁

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