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The Latest Victim of Sequestration: Bunnies?


Uncle Sam is directly responsible for the death of several lab rabbits, or so says research ophthalmologist Robert E. Marc of the University of Utah’s medical school.

Getty Images.

As a result of the March 1 automatic spending cuts (i.e. “sequester”), roughly $1.7 billion has been cut from the National Institutes of Health’s budget.

And in a letter to the Huffington Post, Marc explains how the budget cuts forced him to send his test subjects to the Great Beyond:

I have riffed one postdoctoral fellow and euthanized many beautiful, rare, and expensive transgenic rabbits that were new, exciting models for testing new therapies for human retinal degenerations. We petted them, played with them, fed them treats. Now they are dead. I blame Congress directly for that.

Well, let’s be fair. Congress wasn't alone in implementing sequestration. It was the brainchild of then-White House Office of Management Director Jack Lew and Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors. Lew and Nabors then presented Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) with the idea. Reid later introduced it to Senate Republicans.

Also, sequester required President Barack Obama’s signature. So, yeah, if you want to accuse the president of being responsible for bunny death, you (technically) can.

Seriously, though, aside from having to put his test subjects down, the cuts also lead to the premature shutdown of the research program, thus wasting a good deal of already-spent taxpayer dollars:

Moreover the sequester's cost is tremendously understated as no one is counting the destroyed investments. I've spent over $25,000 developing a colony of animals who have a progressive age-dependent blindness. Because of the sequester we've killed them before we could finish the treatment study.

We saved about $4,000 from this year's budget. We thus wasted 5x more money than the sequester saved. When and if Congress ever does anything again, it will be years before we get our new blindness-treatment study back on line. If it doesn't get better soon, I'll retire early and then 15 people will be unemployed.

Well, that’s all rather unfortunate.


Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

(H/T: National Journal). Featured image IMDB.

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