Turkey Talk

Sometime over the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us will become embroiled in conversations concerning the recent election, the federal budget and the fiscal cliff. Some of us may even encounter the dreaded “That damn government is taking all my money for no good!” conversation. Well, the Blotter is here to provide you with some handy points you can use to demonstrate the importance of federally funded research and how sequestration would be a devastating blow to this important field.

  • The point of fiscal responsibility is to provide a better life for all Americans, especially future generations. While reducing deficits is necessary for achieving long-term prosperity, it is equally necessary that we continue to prioritize spending on science and technology.
  • We should not compromise our future economic growth and security by cutting spending in areas that are critical to our nation’s ability to innovate and compete. As much as half of U.S. economic growth since World War II is a result of technological innovation, much of which is a result of federally funded scientific research. Vaccines, lasers, the MRI, Global Positioning Systems, the Internet, and a host of other advances have grown our economy, improved our health, and made our nation stronger and more secure.
  • Domestic discretionary spending is not the primary cause of our rising debt, and it is the area of the budget that contains critical national investments. Similarly, sequestration is not the answer to our nation’s fiscal problems; we must address the nation’s deficit and debt through comprehensive measures that focus on the real drivers of deficits – entitlement programs and revenues.
  • The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation estimates that the loss in innovation caused by sequestration would reduce GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars.
  • The key to innovation is training new scientists and engineers. Therefore, it is essential that funding for federal student aid remain a national priority to ensure that Americans, regardless of their economic status, have the opportunity to attend college and improve their knowledge and skills for today’s workforce. Investments in student aid have made it possible for generations of young Americans to obtain a college education regardless of income.
  • Testifying on March 28 before the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., stated a cut of this magnitude would mean NIH would fund approximately 2,300 fewer research grants in FY 2013, one-quarter of new and competing grants the agency expects to fund. As a result, success rates for new applications and competing renewals would fall “to historically low levels.”
  • Sequestration will come at the end of a decade that has seen the NIH budget fall by nearly 20 percent after inflation.
  • The private sector, which requires rapid returns in investment, relies on the federal government to fund basic research. NIH funding is the foundation for long‐term U.S. global competitiveness in industries such as biotechnology, drug development, medical devices, and health care. It has been estimated that U.S. life sciences companies support more than 7 million jobs and account for $69 billion in U.S. economic activity.
  • Thanks in large part to NIH-funded medical research, Americans today are living longer and healthier lives. Life expectancy in the United States has risen from 47 years in 1900 to 78 years as reported in 2009, and disability in people over age 65 has dropped dramatically in the past three decades. In recent years, nationwide rates of new diagnoses and deaths from all cancers combined have fallen significantly.
  • In the current overall employment market, unemployed people outnumber job postings 3.6 to 1.  In the STEM occupations, job postings outnumber unemployed people by 1.9 to 1.
  • The top 10 bachelor-degree majors with the highest median earnings are all in STEM fields.
  • STEM workers drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies and new industries. However, U.S. businesses frequently voice concerns over the supply and availability of STEM workers. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs.

Go here for additional points. ASBMB and everyone at the Policy Blotter wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

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