National Science Foundation funds report calling health-care opponents racist

If you think $50,000 doesn’t buy what it used to, think again. For that rough sum, a professor at UCLA has agreed to draw up a report that proves opponents of the Democrats’ health-care bill aren’t motivated by a sense of fiscal responsibility or a general distrust of back-room deals, but by race.

The kicker? Taxpayers are funding the study.

According to the study’s abstract, provided by the National Science Foundation, a government agency under the control of the executive branch: “This research project attempts to provide further evidence for this Obama-induced racialization by pinpointing the extent that health-care opinions are influenced by racial attitudes and determining Obama’s causal role in racializing public opinion about a policy that has no manifest racial content.”

David Sears, a professor of psychology at UCLA, was awarded $52,034 in January 2010 to make this case for the National Science Foundation. The tautology he sets forth in his abstract is rather complicated, so let’s break it down: The project will seek to provide more evidence that opponents to health care are irrational because their negative opinions of health care “are influenced by racial attitudes,” even though the health-care bill has nothing to do with race.

Shorter version: Opposition stems from Obama’s pigmentation, not his policies.

“Race is probably the most visceral issue in American public life,” Sears asserted in the proposal he submitted to the NSF. “As such, increased polarization of the electorate along the lines of racial attitudes would likely make the contemporary political discourse even more vitriolic than the already rancorous atmospheres under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Such a racialized environment would potentially make it more difficult to achieve common ground on public policy in the Age of Obama.”

Generally, said NSF spokesperson Bobbie Mixon, all proposals go through the same rigorous selection process. “All the awards are pretty much based on the same general criteria, which is the merit of the proposal. When researchers send in their proposals, they are reviewed by a group of their peers. They compete against other awards.” But Sears’s award is part of NSF’s RAPID program, which is intended for projects that are more immediate in nature. Because of the time-sensitive nature of RAPID projects, those being considered for RAPID grants bypass the peer review process and are hand-chosen by NSF employees. In this case, by Brian D. Humes of the Division of Social and Economic Sciences, who “looked in-house for recommendations from the staff.” (Hume referred all requests for comment to Mixon’s office.)

“RAPID awards can be on any topic, and they can take a number of different forms. We have issued quite a few of these RAPID awards based on the Gulf Coast oil spill. There’s a timeliness involved with issuing a RAPID award.” Mixon also said that RAPID awards were not decided based on politics, but simply on the merit of the science.

This isn’t the first time that an agency under Obama has paid a professor to advocate for health care. Earlier this year, progressives took MIT’s Jonathan Gruber behind the shed and gave him a sound whooping for failing to disclose that while he was acting as a source for stories and a congressional witness, he was also on the HHS’ payroll, working to justify the Senate’s version of the health-care bill, which had theretofore met with intense opposition from House Dems and grassroots progressives.

Nor is this Sears’s first foray into attacking opponents of progressive policies. In 1997, he reviewed Byron M. Roth’s “Is it really racism?: The origins of white Americans’ opposition to race-targeted policies,” for the academic journal Political Psychology. Roth, a sociologist, argued in his piece that criticisms of entitlement programs and affirmative action were often motivated by real concerns about spending run amok and social engineering, and that sociologists often falsely labeled such objections as racist in nature. In his review of Roth’s book, Sears dismissed his peer as “naive” and oblivious to the realities of racism. Sears did not return requests for comment.