The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is directing federal agencies to use taxpayer dollars to help corporations turn government-funded discoveries into commercial products and services.
In an Aug. 17 memo to agency heads, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney directed agencies to prioritize their research and development funds for basic early-stage research that could be used by companies for product and service development. These corporations, including pharmaceutical companies that rake in billions in profits every year, need taxpayers to fund early-stage research because this kind of research is expensive and may lead to nothing.
“Therefore, agencies should give priority to funding basic early-stage applied research that, supplemented by private sector financing of later-stage R&D, can result in the development of transformative commercial products and services,” wrote the director of OMB, a tiny but powerful agency responsible for developing and executing budgets and policies across the government.
“By providing the fundamental building blocks of new technological advances, the government can empower the private sector to accelerate research discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace,” he added.
The OMB memo is the latest example of the Trump administration's efforts to fatten the pockets of billionaires and big corporations. It has pushed for the privatization of Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, public schools, prisons, air traffic control, infrastructure programs, and federal jobs. It has cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s budget to prevent the agency from holding polluters accountable. It has tried to kill the consumers protection agency created after the financial meltdown to protect the American people from greedy Wall Street.
It has also pushed for lower taxes for the wealthy and corporations while moving ahead with its plans to cut important programs that benefit the American people like health care and education.
Mulvaney himself has been a strong supporter of the corporate world since his time in Congress. As a U.S. representative from South Carolina, he joined the so-called Yellow Pages caucus, which pushed for privatization of federal functions and jobs, never mind the fact that federal employees are two to three times cheaper than contractors. He also advocated for a government shutdown in 2013.