During Joe Biden's announcement that he would not be running for president in 2016, he stated:
And I believe we need a moonshot in this country to cure cancer. It's personal. But I know we can do this. The president and I have already been working hard on increasing funding for research and development -- because there are so many breakthroughs just on the horizon in science and medicine.
His statements and vigor about increasing cancer research funding during his last 15 months in office were great to hear. However, was this just rhetoric or, based on his past 81 months in office, are his intentions and efforts futile?
In 2008, The Obama-Biden Plan to Combat Cancer promised to double federal funding for cancer research focusing on the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). But, this has not occurred, as funding of the NCI has not shown growth since 2003.
In my opinion, funding for cancer research is plain scary. Five years ago, I made a post about how U.S. consumers spend more on Halloween than the NCI does on cancer research. Unfortunately, it appears that the gap is getting worse.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans are expected to spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year. In contrast, the NCI's budget for fiscal year 2015 was just $4.95 billion.
It is impressive that, as consumers, we spend more on candy and costumes than the NCI does on cancer and cures. The NRF estimates that 157 million Americans will spend an average of $74.34 on Halloween this year.
Perhaps the power of the people's purse is the approach that is needed to properly fund cancer research.
If President Obama and Vice President Biden have really tried in earnest to double cancer research funding for the NCI for almost seven years and failed then perhaps our tax and political system have failed us as well.
Why don't we try a different approach?
What if, as the people, we were given a $100 tax rebate if we can document a $100 donation to the NCI each year?
Now, that would be "an absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today," as Mr. Biden mentioned was needed in his announcement.
We the people have paid our taxes and elected our officials based on the promises to increase funding for cancer research and yet our efforts via those avenues have failed. Let us decide to fund cancer research. Let us crowdfund our tax dollars to the right place and put an end to this scariness.