Health officials reported yesterday that cancer deaths in the United States dropped for the second year in a row. President Bush teed off this news with a speech at the National Institutes of Health, touting the increased funding for cancer research since 2001:
First, I’m pleased that we’re funding cancer research. We’re up about 25 percent or 26 percent since 2001; it’s a commitment that I made when I first came to Washington, it’s a commitment we’re keeping. And the reason why it makes sense to spend taxpayers’ money on cancer research is that we can make some good progress, and have.
The total budget for the National Cancer Institute has increased $1.2 billion since 2001. But as ABC News’s Medical Editor pointed out last night, “most of that occurred in those early years under a Clinton initiative. The budget was actually cut last year and the projected budget for this year is to be cut even further.”
CHARLES GIBSON: The President today was pointing to all the money that the government has put into cancer research. Other people say, look, it’s earlier diagnosis. Others say better treatment is responsible for these numbers. Some people say better living. So, what is it?
TIMOTHY JOHNSON, ABC NEWS MEDICAL EDITOR: Well, it’s a combination of all of the above. But when the administration tries to take credit for increased spending, per se, I think they’re misleading. It is true that the total budget for the National Cancer Institute has gone up by $1.2 billion since 2001. But most of that occurred in those early years under a Clinton initiative. The budget was actually cut last year and the projected budget for this year is to be cut even further. So, I think it’s a real tragedy that we are cutting the budget for the National Cancer Institute at a time we’re on the verge of many exciting discoveries.