9/22 Erik Paulsen Correspondence Corner : Checkers -or- Paralyzed Veterans

Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.

Today’s topic, H.R.3197 – “Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act of 2017” or the “PUPPERS Act of 2017”.

Side note : Congressman Paulsen also addressed TRIO funding which was discussed on another MN Political Roundtable commentary

Before addressing this week’s Correspondence Corner, a quick question,
What is the Paulsen Political Brand ?

No politician wants to labeled a “mentally deranged dotard” … especially when you wrote the book, Time to Get Tough: Make America Great Again!

No, most politicians just want to check the boxes

Candidates for Republican endorsement

Happily married (only one spouse of the opposite sex)

Cute kids

God fearing

Family pet

Gun loving

Tax hating

Check all the boxes and you are the perfect Republican candidate … even better if you can talk positively about protecting Medicare ADVANTAGE (the Bush insurance program, not FDR’s government program), job training programs, and impress schoolchildren with passages from the book, House Mouse, Senate Mouse

How our laws are made–researching and drafting a bill, committee hearings and markup, floor action, presidential action, and covers the idea of compromise.

Heck, this is they type of guy that you would like to have a beer with !

Yep, throw in a #PhotoOpErik staged event, and you understand the Paulsen Political Brand !

Now, on to this week’s video

Aren’t you impressed … a quick referencing to participating in Meals On Wheels with a statement that there will be an increase in funding (except Republican leadership says it will be flat and Congressman Paulsen doesn’t mention the $100 million cut in Community Development Block Grant funding, which many communities use to fund MealsOnWheels) … and a mention of opening of Veterans East featuring 100 efficiency apartments targeted to homeless veterans.

Congressman Paulsen then addresses a request he received from Nan of Bloomington seeking to end funding to the Veterans Administration for medical experiments using dogs and for his support for H.R.3197 – “Preventing Unkind and Painful Procedures and Experiments on Respected Species Act of 2017” or the “PUPPERS Act of 2017”.

Hmmmm …. perfect for the Paulsen Political Brand !
Shades of 6/16 Erik Paulsen Correspondence Corner : Say NO to Shark Fin Soup when Congressman Paulsen alerted Michelle from Bloomington that he had already co-sponsored H.R.1456 – Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017, you know that Congressman Paulsen had already sponsored H.R. 3197 PUPPERS Act.

This sounds like an easy one … after all, who could oppose it ?

Well, turns out there are a lot of voices … veteran voices and a veterans’ medical group known as Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA).
FOVA is a coalition of more than 80 national academic, medical, and scientific societies, voluntary health and patient advocacy groups, and veteran service organizations dedicated to providing veterans with high-quality care. FOVA believes the legislation “will impede scientific research and unnecessarily delay research advances for our nation’s veterans.”

Hmmmm …. so this isn’t sadistic torture, but medical research.

FOVA writes “FOVA strongly supports efforts to reduce unnecessary use of animals in all scientific research. We further support ethical treatment of all animals, including dogs, where use of animals in research is appropriate. VA researchers only use dogs in research when the dog model is clearly the most suitable for the scientific study. There are currently 85 dogs used in VA-sponsored studies”.

On behalf of veterans, Sherman Gillums Jr. (retired U.S. Marine officer who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2002 while serving on active duty) writes in an The Hill OpEd [highlights below]

For a veteran facing a lifetime of paralysis after suffering a spinal cord injury, hope is often the last thing to die.
Yet, the recently introduced House bill, H.R. 3197, threatens to crush what little hope to which I, and the approximately 60,000 veterans living with spinal cord injury, cling. The act proposes to reduce investment in medical research, and the reason is as simple as it is controversial: animal research.
When contemplated in a vacuum, the thought of animals experiencing induced pain would bother any reasonable person.
Consider these facts: It was VA’s canine research that spurred the development of the cardiac pacemaker and artificial pancreas the Food and Drug Administration approved just last year, which serves to benefit both veterans and those who have never worn the uniform. Non-VA canine research has also led to the discovery of insulin, new tests and treatments for various types of cancer and has played an important role in ushering in advancements in heart surgery procedures.
The VA has a responsibility to consistently find new and better ways of treat America’s heroes. Animal research helps the department do that. The program has helped save and improve countless lives, and it will continue to do so—unless ideology, and in some cases extremism on the issue of animal rights, succeed in forcing the public’s attention away from VA waiting rooms, inpatient wards, and rehabilitation gyms across the country.
Medical and scientific experts in America, as well as across the globe, agree animal research is essential. That’s because only animal research will provide the answers needed to develop revolutionary new treatments. Whether we like it or not, canine research is especially vital to potential medical breakthroughs because of unique traits shared by humans and dogs. In fact, CNN recently highlighted in a February 2017 story how canine research is leading to better results than traditional cancer research efforts.
Despite the hyperbole used by legislators to invoke disturbing images, VA is conducting research that is vital to seriously disabled veterans. That is what cannot be forgotten or eclipsed by words hyperlinked to extreme ideologies.
The research conducted at these facilities includes exploring cures and treatments for fatal lung infections affecting those with spinal cord injuries, dysfunction in brain circuits that control breathing, and whether service dogs reliably reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is my sincere hope there will come a time when we don’t need animals for research. Unfortunately, that time has not arrived, and because of the incredible complexity of human anatomy and our still-limited understanding of how it works, animal research will be needed for the foreseeable future.

Impassioned words … that makes one wonder what sources Congressman Paulsen consulted before signing on to the bill ?

VA conducts animal research at 74 of its facilities, but only three of them – Cleveland OH, Richmond VA, and Milwaukee WI – conduct dog experiments that “involve inflicting significant pain and distress.”
Kristin Parker, chief of external affairs for the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System said the dog experiments are being used to save lives of veterans and non-veterans. Cleveland’s experiments on dogs examine ways to prevent potentially fatal lung infections in veterans living with spinal cord injuries, paralysis from stroke, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) She said the research requires “study of living animals in which the spinal cord is similar in size to a human spinal cord” and with a similar coughing mechanism to humans. “This means species other than canines will not do.”

Hmmmm …. medical research … something that Congressman Paulsen’s website says is key to Reforming Health Care highlighting the need to “invest in research” specifically mentioning ALS … a disease that he has frequently discussed.

Minnesota is estimated to have 10,000 citizens with spinal cord injuries and 500 people served by MN-Dakota ALS.
Ya gotta wonder if Congressman Paulsen considered them when he sponsored the PUPPERS Act ?

The PUPPERS Act is focused on the VA … but there is other testing being done by other governmental agencies … in FY2015, the NIH held 695 dogs for Class D experiments, CDC had 295 and DOD had 81.
The Paulsen-backed legislation does not address them … why not ?

So what prompted Congressman Paulsen to highlight the PUPPERS legislation in this week’s Correspondence Corner ?

Well, how about an advocacy report promoted by former Republican political strategist, Anthony Bellotti — “we point the tip of our spear at wasteful spending. With the doubling of the National Institutes of Health’s budget last decade, government has become the market maker for animal experimentation. So we understand that spending isn’t the solution here; it’s the problem. That’s our focus. And it will continue to be our focus.”

No doubt supporters of the PUPPERS Act can find isolated cases where research standards may have been violated. Then, enforcement of existing policies on animal testing is in order. Congress should heed the advise of Sherman Gillums, “The scientific community has already drawn those boundaries, and we simply need to enforce them, not kill all hope for the millions of human beings who stand to benefit from continued research.”

Let’s recognize how the Paulsen Political Brand is built …
Richard Nixon had Checkers, and the Paulsen family has Koko

Those are family pets (heck, someone might say they are political props — let’s remember there is checkmark on the candidates form).
Standing up for family pets is a given … standing up for ethical medical research has political risks — who wants to be a target of mailers charging you as a supporter of “painful, wasteful and unnecessary animal experiments.
Congressman Paulsen has been silent on many issues, but this week, he has chosen to promote the PUPPERS Act … sorta makes you wonder if he read that a national poll by Lincoln Park found that 75 percent of respondents opposed experiments on dogs.

Don’t you wish Congressman Paulsen had instead told his constituents what steps Congress is taking to help our disabled veterans ?
Ya gotta wonder why Congressman Paulsen has failed to take action on other important veterans’ legislative proposals, such as :

H.R. 632 – Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act
H.R.1206 – Reducing Barriers for Veterans Education Act of 2017
H.R.1279 – Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act
H.R.1445 – Veterans Reimbursement for Emergency Ambulance Services Act
H.R.1472 – Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2017
H.R.2198 – Veterans Crisis Line Improvement Act
H.R.2452 – Deborah Sampson Act
H.R.2827 – Voices for Veterans Act
H.R.3177 – Keeping Our Commitment to Disabled Veterans Act of 2017
H.R.3272 – Veteran Education Empowerment Act

After reading this commentary, replay this week’s Correspondence Corner and maybe you won’t be impressed as Congressman Paulsen wants you to be … but instead, realize that his Correspondence Corner videos are designed to be a political ploy — no different than dressing Koko in a Paulsen-for-Congress tee shirt (except taxpayers are funding his house.gov website which features the videos).

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