Council Sends Open Letter to Senate Leaders: Preserve Funding for Science Research
Cuts Could "Endanger America's Leadership" in Technology
February 28, 2011
The Council on Competitiveness Leadership sent the following open letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid:
Dear Senator Reid and Senator McConnell:
As the Senate begins consideration of a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through the remainder of the current fiscal year, we want to express our concern with severe cuts being proposed to small but critical portions of the federal research budget that drive economic growth. Robust growth generates jobs, replacing benefit payments to struggling families with receipts that accrue from prospering families. A growing economy will reduce the severity of spending cuts or tax increases necessary to bring our national finances back to a sustainable trajectory.
The Council’s 2005 Innovate America report urged that America reverse a precipitous decline in physical science research funding as a share of our economy. The report also advocated improving the number and performance of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Scientific research and skilled workers are the basis for new ideas, new technologies, new products and services, new companies, even entirely new industries. The American economy cannot compete and grow if we neglect our capacity to innovate.
Federal investments in these areas are necessary and affordable, yet current proposals being considered by Congress would reduce the budgets of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the core accounts of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The
cuts would be severe to each agency, but merely symbolic in the context of the larger fiscal challenge. The combined cuts would save 0.039 percent from the FY 2011 budget proposed by the President, but would set back important research, shut down key facilities, and exacerbate the supply and development
of skilled STEM professionals.
Cuts to the Office of Science could endanger America’s leadership in areas like High Performance Computing, which hold the potential for groundbreaking discoveries and game changing industries. How to make greater use of this comparative advantage we hold in the global economy should be our focus. While no program (including entitlement programs), department or agency should be off the table in the debate as to how to bring our nation's fiscal house in order, we urge you to consider the negative implications of cuts to research at a time when competing nations are investing heavily in their innovation future.
Samuel R. Allen
Chairman and CEO. Deere & Company
Michael R. Splinter
Chairman and CEO, Applied Materials, Inc.
William P. Hite
General President, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters
Charles O. Holliday, Jr.
Chairman, Bank of America
Deborah L. Wince-Smith
President and CEO. Council on Competitiveness
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