CEI Daily - Election Spending, High-Speed Rail, and Sen. Grassley's Hypocrisy


Election Spending


Election spending in 2010 wasn't as out of control as The Washington Post seems to think it was.


Fellow in Regulatory Studies Ryan Young compares the $4 billion spent on the election to federal spending.


"$4 billion, of course, comes to $12.90 per person in a nation of 310 million people. So maybe not. A bit more context: federal spending costs $11,290.32 per person. Regulation costs another $5,645.16 per person. That’s a total burden of $16,935.48 per person. American democracy is a very expensive form of government with surprisingly inexpensive elections. Spending $12.90 to influence $3.5 trillion in spending and another $1.75 trillion in regulating seems like too little election spending, not too much. Total election spending is about the same as it was in 2000, when the federal budget was under $2 trillion."




High-Speed Rail


Yesterday, the Department of Transportation announced that another $2.4 billion will go toward high-speed rail projects.


Policy Analyst Marc Scribner explains that many of the "high-speed rail" projects funded by the DOT actually fail to meet the definition of high-speed rail.


"The European Union, for example, defines high-speed rail on upgraded track to be those lines where vehicles can travel in excess of 120 miles per hour, with a 160-mile-per-hour minimum for vehicles traveling on new track. Of the nine regions/corridors receiving funding, only two meet these criteria."




Sen. Grassley's Hypocrisy


Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) wants the FDA to crack down on financial conflicts of interest in doctor-run clinical trials.


Senior Fellow Greg Conko points out that Grassley is very selective in his campaign against doctors' conflicts of interest.


"Take, for example, Grassley’s partnership with Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steven Nissen and their joint campaign against the GSK diabetes drug Avandia.  TThe drug appears to work wonders for the treatment of Type II diabetes, but research conducted by Dr. Nissen indicates that it also leads to a significant elevated risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.[...] So, where’s the hypocricy?  It turns out that Nissen just happens to be one of the investigators on a study purporting to show that Avandia’s closest competitor, Takeda Pharmaceutical’s drug Actos, is superior to Avandia because it doesn’t increase cardiac risk.  And, as it turns out, Takeda provided $25,000 in funding to Nissen’s Cleveland Clinic team to conduct the Actos study.  As my 5-year-old son, who is newly taken with episodes of the classic cartoon Scooby-Doo, might say … 'Ruh-Roh!'"