NJ Voters Reject Corzine's Half-Billion Dollar Stem Cell Boondoggle

Maybe Taxpayers Have Second Thoughts When They Know It's Their Own Money

By Dan McLaughlin Posted in | | | | Comments (6) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Democrats nationwide have been operating on the assumption that taxpayer funding for stem cell research is endlessly popular with the voters (for all the talk of "banning" research on embryonic stem cells, remember that nobody has advanced a serious proposal to make such research illegal; the issue is whether to spend taxpayer money on it despite the substantial moral/ethical objections of a significant number of taxpayers).

Today in New Jersey, that theory was put to the test, and appears to have gone down in defeat before what is usually accounted as a liberal Northeastern electorate:

New Jersey voters on Tuesday rejected borrowing $450 million to pay for stem cell research grants in the state for 10 years.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, 53 percent of voters opposed the spending.

The rejection was a defeat for Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who campaigned heavily for the measure. He argued the money would help find cures for conditions such as spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, sickle cell anemia and multiple sclerosis while also luring leading scientists and research firms to the state.

But the measure was opposed by anti-abortion activists, conservatives and the Roman Catholic Church because it would pay for research that destroys human embryos and would increase state debt.

"It's a reinforcement of our values and a rebuke to the governor," said Steve Lonegan, a conservative Republican who led opposition to the question. "The taxpayers are saying enough is enough."

New Jersey voters had not defeated a statewide ballot question since 1990.

Senate President Richard J. Codey, a leading stem cell supporter, pinned the defeat on chronic state fiscal problems and mounting state debt.

"The taxpayers of New Jersey are not against stem cell research," said Codey, D-Essex. "It's clear. The message we're getting is put your fiscal house in order and then do these things."

Presumably, supporters of federal stem cell research believe that the federal government's fiscal house is already in enviable condition. But voters, if asked to judge, might say otherwise.

NJ Voters Reject Corzine's Half-Billion Dollar Stem Cell Boondoggle 6 Comments (0 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

In most states, in order to buy into a venture capital partnership, you have to sign one of those things that says you are a "sophisticated investor" who can afford to lose it all, and that you are doing this of your own free will.

Here we had a state government that was going to operate a venture capital fund with money taken from taxpayers.

What is it about Democrats that they have to have the government do everything.

Drink Good Coffee. You can sleep when you're dead.

NJ by Yil

NJ is home to several pharmaceutical companies so offering to invest in stem cell research is a valid idea as compared to say a state just trying to entice companies to move there. The problem is those same companies aren't exactly unprofitable so why should NJ be spending money it can't afford on companies that have the means to do the research anyway?

I think you're right that most voters didn't want to spend money we don't have. It also doesn't help that it appears likely it was more of a giveaway to rich companies. The green acres question (a popular program here) had to fight for it this time as well and I think the 1% question is going down since we don't trust politicians. Residents here want some fiscal sanity so that's at least 2 ballot measures going down so far.

On the other hand your comparison to federal stem cell spending is I think off. The stem cell bills vetoed by Bush do not direct any spending on stem cells. They merely allow such proposals to compete for existing funding with everything else which presumably would be made on a merit basis. That's a pretty significant difference and highlights that opposition isn't a fiscal issue at the federal level.

I think Codey is right. NJ favors stem cell research and polls indicate this, but we don't want to pay for it with our state tax dollars.

Certainly, what the President rejected was expansion of existing stem cell research to include those derived from embryos. Nonetheless, this is not a modest nuance, but an egregious expanse objectionable to a large cross section of the electorate. Hence the deafening silence since then.

However, if there is anything predictable about federal government it is that funding increases follow the charter revisions of any programs. That is a fact proven time and again. So therefore in following, this is not only a fiscal issue since folks in the opposition don't want their money spent on offensive research best done by R&D companies who stand to profit, but also as a hedge against the indubitable budget increase certain to be an accompaniment. It is indeed both a moral and fiscal issue.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"
Contributor to The Minority Report

    NJ favors stem cell research and polls indicate this

Of course people "favor" it. To hear the media help the Democrats tell it, it will heal the sick, raise the dead, and put fresh litter in the cat box.

But why stop there? There are many promising avenues of research that could lead to cures for disease. Let's have the taxpayers fund a cure for, oh, I don't know, how about "all the diseases hurting The Children™?" Who doesn't favor eliminating childhood disease? How about the heartbreak of psoriasis? Every taxpayer will want to fund that.

It goes on forever. There is no shortage of do-gooder projects that taxpayers can be taught to "favor" in a poll.

The whole thing reminds me of the media's crusade to foment military action in Somalia. Why Somalia? Who knows. All of a sudden, every media outlet had to send a camera crew to Somalia to film starving babies. As usual, there were plenty of starving babies all over the world, but for some reason the lemmings in the media all decided that the ones in Somalia needed to be filmed and shown on TV in America, night after night.

Sure enough, polls soon showed that Americans "favored" saving the starving babies in Somalia. As we all know, we sent our guys in to save the starving babies, in return for which the grateful Somalis killed them and dragged them through the streets.

Priority-setting by media fad ought to have a much worse reputation than it does.

Drink Good Coffee. You can sleep when you're dead.

Not to threadjack, but agreed certainly we should not have been in Somalia. However, the mission started out (under the elder Bush) assisting the U.N. in what was largely at the time a relief role. Certainly, notable and commendable since it was one of the worst famines on the planet. Why Somalia above all others? That's a great question but anyway it's our money paying for the stuff - so no substantial problems, yet.

Once Clinton got in he removed most of our forces, switches to nation building then decides to go after warlords with minimal forces, no armor, no air-cap support (I suppose that Aidid killing a bunch of Pakistani forces and reportedly "skinning" some of them should have tempered that approach, buy hey that's just me). Overall, just a small change in our role which cost our guys their lives. To compound that, Clinton pulls our forces out and releases all the criminals we were holding - then Les Aspin takes the bullet? It was a trifecta for the terrorists with AQ sitting on the side saying "hey, we can take these guys".

The fact is I don't agree with all the money spent on some of these various global efforts. But helping people eat, provided we were only the delivery truck was not overtly bad and I can somewhat rationalize the goal. However, government dropping billions of our dollars into what should be private sector efforts is well beyond the proverbial spending pale. If it's so promising and un-offensive, let those who will eventually profit fund it.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"
Contributor to The Minority Report

WRT embryonic stem-cell research: if said research had any real promise, venture capitalists would be lining up to provide R&D funding. Reality: this just another form of corporate welfare intended to benefit Governor Corzine's political supporters in the pharmaceutical industry.

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