Other Voices on the Budget

I have little doubt that my editorial in this week’s issue will raise a ruckus among some readers. Once again, the refrain will go, the ultra-liberal Baum has come out in favor of big government and high taxes.

Turns out, I’m not alone. The March 4 issue of Science has an editorial entitled “Research Vital to Economic Growth” by Raymond L. Orbach, director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. Orbach served as Under Secretary for Science at the Department of Energy in the administration of President George W. Bush. The editorial is already posted at www.sciencemag.org and is available to anyone willing to register.

Orbach writes, “It was with a mixture of astonishment and dismay that I watched as the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1, a bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. Left intact, the massive cuts in research contained in the bill passed on 19 February would effectively end America’s legendary status as the leader of the worldwide scientific community, putting the United States at a distinct disadvantage when competing with other nations in the global marketplace.”

Orbach goes on to state that funding for scientific research should not be a partisan issue (good luck on that in today’s political climate) and that, “The spending cuts in the bill would have a devastating effect on an array of critical scientific research.” He concludes that “the Senate must restore funding for science in the FY 2011 budget. Failure to do so would relegate the United States to second-class status in the scientific community and threaten economic growth and prosperity for future generations of Americans.”

The February 25 issue of Science has an excellent news story entitled “House Cuts to DOE National Labs Would Also Hamstring Industry.” The story reports that the cuts in the Republican 2011 budget would result in the layoff of several thousand workers at the national labs and hamper industrial research ranging from the pharmaceutical industry to the oil and gas industry. The story leads, “A spending bill passed by the House of Representatives last week would bring the Department of Energy’s entire science program to a screeching halt and wreak havoc on research funded by other agencies and by private industry.”

The budget charade being played out in Washington is nothing less than a national tragedy. Anyone who cares about the future of our nation should be speaking out on it.

Author: Rudy Baum

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