Reactions to Obama's Science Budget

Francisco Diez

The words are flowing. Reactions are starting to trickle in to the research-related portions of President Barack Obama's 2014 budget request, which was delivered to Congress. ScienceInsider will be tracking what groups are saying as they release statements.

Statement by the Task Force on American Innovation on the president's FY '14 budget (12:00 p.m. on 12 April):

Members of the Task Force on American Innovation—a coalition of industry, universities, and scientific societies—believe it is essential that the federal government maintain a robust investment in scientific research. We believe that Congress and the President can and must commit to such spending even as they work to reduce budget deficits.

In that context, the Task Force supports President Obama's proposed increases in funding for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, Department of Defense basic research, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The federal investment in scientific research is vital to the nation's long-term economic growth and national security. Indeed, one of the reasons that deficit reduction is so important is to ensure that the government can afford this and other critical investments. We recognize that there are strong differences over how to reduce budget deficits. But we believe there should be bipartisan support for the research that is the foundation of innovation and economic competitiveness.

With both the House and Senate having approved budgets, and the President now having submitted his own, we continue to urge the nation's leaders to come together and negotiate a major long-term budget agreement that not only protects coming generations from unsustainable debt but also ensures our ability to invest in their future.

The American Chemical Society responds (4:00 p.m. on 11 April):

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2013 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) applauds the release of the President's FY14 budget and his continued recognition of the importance of science and technology as the fuel for economic growth and job creation.

The ACS sees the President's budget, and those prepared by Congress, as excellent starting points toward enactment of a balanced and bipartisan FY14 budget for the country," said ACS President Marinda Wu, Ph.D. "We fully appreciate that this has been, and will be, a challenging budget season. We encourage our national leaders to make a bipartisan effort to focus on achieving a balanced budget that helps put the U.S. economic house in order, while also putting forth a road map that fosters innovation and leads to economic growth and job creation."

ACS believes strongly that economic growth in the U.S. is based on three foundations: sustained support for scientific and medical research that leads to technological innovations, a strong science education enterprise that prepares a world-class workforce and a robust business climate that will make American companies competitive with our international competitors. To accomplish this we need our nation's leadership to prioritize continued and predictable investment in scientific research to identify and enable new opportunities for innovation."

The three-part ACS public policy agenda is outlined in U.S. Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and specific policy recommendations are contained in positions on enhancing research and technology development, science education and the empowerment of U.S. businesses.

As scientists and engineers, we are confident in recommending that the FY 14 budget should — indeed, must — emphasize innovation. In the last sixty years, more than half of all growth in GDP has directly resulted from scientific research and subsequent commercialization of new products and processes. Our American roots lie in pioneering innovation! This is what we do best.

Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives released the following (5:00 p.m. on 10 April):

Even after a two-month delay, the President's budget still gets a failing grade. Filled with new spending and over one trillion dollars in tax increases, his proposal once again fails to balance the budget and continues to borrow 25 cents for every dollar the federal government spends. Hardworking taxpayers are tired of watching the government borrow and spend money it doesn't have.

While getting points for creativity, a proposed NASA mission to 'lasso' an asteroid and drag it to the Moon's orbit will require serious deliberation. Seemingly out of the blue, this mission has never been evaluated or recommended by the scientific community and has not received the scrutiny that a normal program would undergo.

I am also concerned that the Administration continues to favor subsidies associated with its green energy agenda over basic research that helps keep America competitive. The bankruptcies of Solyndra, Abound Solar and Beacon Power have demonstrated a lack of accountability within the President's green energy initiatives. The President now wants more money to fund more pet projects, when it is clear that his administration has not been responsible with the taxpayer dollars that have already been spent."

The Science Committee will hold hearings in the coming weeks to receive testimony on the President's budget priorities.

The following is a statement from the LIVESTRONG Foundation (4:50 p.m. on 10 April):

The LIVESTRONG Foundation applauds President Obama's budget proposal to increase funding for lifesaving cancer research at the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. We are also encouraged that the Administration, through funding for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, continues to make strengthening health systems globally a priority. These essential investments will fuel the discovery of new treatments and cures for the leading cause of death worldwide.

The Foundation is pleased the President's budget aims to significantly reduce smoking's deadly toll through a 94-cent increase in the federal tax on tobacco products. Tobacco taxes are a proven method of reducing smoking rates, especially among youth, and associated health care costs. With a tobacco tax increase also generating billions of dollars in revenue, it is a win-win for the health and economic vitality of our country.

Additionally, the Foundation is encouraged by the Administration's proposal to put the necessary funding increases in place to support the advancement of electronic health records technology. The LIVESTRONG Foundation advocates for the rights of cancer patients to have the increased control of their records that electronic technology would bring, including the potential to improve and enhance many areas of medical care.

Our work is focused solely on addressing the needs of those facing cancer today, improving their quality of life and health outcomes through free support services, programs, tools, resources and advocacy efforts. Since our founding 16 years ago, we have mobilized more than $500 million to help 2.5 million individuals facing cancer. On behalf of the millions living with cancer today, the Foundation looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to make these budget increases and priorities a reality.

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today released the following statement (4:40 p.m. on 10 April):

President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal reflects a strong commitment to supporting research at our public universities while also providing financial assistance to help students pay for school. While we continue to review the administration's budget documents in more detail, the overall figures reflect an understanding that continued investments in basic research and higher education will more than pay for themselves through the innovations and subsequent economic growth they generate. Research at our universities has led to the development of everything from the Internet, GPS and treatments for cancer and other devastating diseases. I greatly appreciate the President's understanding that despite having more limited funding to allocate, we must continue to devote additional resources to the research that will lead to future economic gains.

Investments in student aid and research, the majority of which is conducted at our nation's universities, did not cause our budget deficits. In fact, those deficits would be even higher had we not made those past investments. Along with other leaders in the research university community, I have repeatedly called for a balanced approach of entitlement reform that yields savings and tax reform that produces new revenue as a path toward reining in budget deficits. While details certainly need to be worked out, the President's budget proposal provides the framework for such an approach and I hope Congress works with the White House to get a much-needed big deal done this year.

APLU has been working very hard to transform STEM education and teacher training through our Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI). We are very pleased to see the President continue his focus on training 100,000 new STEM teachers and producing 1 million new STEM graduates. This effort is incredibly important for increasing science literacy among all Americans and for producing the next generation of researchers and engineers who will discover and develop new technologies that will improve lives and power our economy for decades.

In recent years we've seen states cut funding for public universities at the same time those schools are taking on additional students, which has furthered the need for federal financial assistance to offset this shift in costs. To that end, I'm pleased that the President maintained investments in the Pell, Work Study, and other student aid programs. We also appreciate that the President's budget seeks to prevent interest rates on federal student loans from doubling on July 1 as scheduled, and look forward to learning more about how the proposed fixed-variable rate would be funded.

Statement from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley (3:30 p.m. on 10 April):

The president's FY14 budget proposal offers a lifeline for medical research to replace sequestration's damaging footprints. The budget includes $31.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, as well as increases for the Food and Drug Administration and National Science Foundation. These increases would take our nation in the right direction, but we're concerned that budget proposals from Congress—one from each of the House and Senate—unlike the president, fail to reverse sequestration. Sequestration, 10 years of across-the-board spending cuts, will drag our nation down from its leadership position in research and development as other countries aggressively ramp up investments, attracting American businesses and young scientists concerned that federal funding is on the decline, that the U.S. no longer prioritizes research. Our nation has the most sophisticated medical research ecosystem in the world; yet our elected officials have ignored the short- and long-term consequences of dismantling it via sequestration—more deaths from preventable diseases, increased joblessness and soaring health care costs as more Baby boomers become afflicted with Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening, costly illnesses. Policy makers must start acting in the best interests of this nation and tackle tax and entitlement reform to end sequestration. Without bold action by Congress and the administration, our nation's research enterprise will sputter as other countries fuel their competitive edge.

Following is a statement by Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities (AAU) (1:50 p.m. on 10 April):

AAU and its member research universities have frequently expressed our view that the nation can and should reduce budget deficits but maintain strong investments in research and education. Such spending is critical to the nation's long-term economic growth, health, and national security.

We are pleased to see this approach reflected in the President's FY14 budget. The President's budget offers hope that the nation will continue to make science and education investments a top national priority while taking serious steps to reduce budget deficits. We strongly support the President's proposals to eliminate the ill-considered across-the-board sequester and to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, Department of Defense basic research, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and some key student financial aid programs.

While we have concerns about some of the specifics, we also appreciate that the Administration proposes taking steps to address entitlement programs, which are the most serious driver of spending increases, and to raise additional revenues, which also are essential to serious, balanced deficit reduction.

We do not agree with everything in this budget. But it is a strong start, and we will work with the Administration and with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to support balanced deficit reduction, elimination of the sequester, and strong and sustained investments in the nation's future.

The following is a statement from United for Medical Research (UMR) in reaction to President Obama's FY '14 budget (1:50 p.m. on 10 April):

United for Medical Research applauds President Obama's proposal to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in FY 2014. As the centerpiece of the medical innovation ecosystem, NIH not only supports the research that leads to treatments and cures for our most devastating diseases, but drives the life sciences economic engine, annually sustaining over 400,000 jobs and nearly $60 billion in economic activity nationwide. The President's NIH budget proposal is an important step forward in restoring the crippling $1.6 billion cut the agency received as a result of the sequester.

We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress in making this increase in NIH funding a reality. Following a decade of decline in purchasing power, even as scientific opportunities have grown exponentially, increasing the NIH budget should be a critical national priority. In these perilous economic times, we cannot afford to underinvest in our nation's most talented scientists. Their work, undertaken in all 50 states, has enabled the U.S. to lead the world in life science innovation.

Every year, NIH research on cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes alone averts up to 1.35 million deaths annually while providing hope to millions of patients and their families. Funding roughly one-third of all U.S. medical research, NIH supports more than 300,000 research positions at over 2,500 research universities and institutions in all 50 states.