America’s Research Enterprise and The Sequester
The sequester would have a devastating impact on America’s research enterprise
It is essential that America get itself on a sustainable financial path going forward. We cannot achieve this with indiscriminate cuts to programs that fuel our economy, improve our health, and provide for our security. A balanced approach to deficit reduction is necessary to ensure that valuable programs like federally-sponsored research – which account for a very small portion of the nation’s total budget, but which provide extraordinary dividends – aren’t harmed in the process.
Scientific research fuels America’s ability to innovate and compete in the global economy. Yet federal funding for research is now at the lowest level (in real dollars) in the past decade. Federal funding for research will likely be further depressed over the next decade due to mandatory caps on discretionary spending included in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which will reduce discretionary spending by about $1 trillion. The BCA also included a sequester – additional automatic, across-the-board cuts to federal discretionary spending – which goes into effect in January 2013. The sequester was triggered when Congress failed to achieve $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction measures by the end of 2011. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) estimates this would reduce funding for research and development (R&D) by more than $12 billion in 2013 and nearly $60 billion through 2017.
If allowed to take effect, the sequester would deliver a devastating blow to research and many other vital programs that rely on public funding, yet not address the fundamental causes of America’s budget deficit. The only way to prevent the sequester is through legislation.
Congress and the President must act now and work together to put forward a balanced, long-term plan to reduce the nation’s deficit and prevent the arbitrary and harmful cuts that otherwise will take effect in January.