Dear Research Advocate,
The debt ceiling negotiations are continuing this week and the August 2nd deadline continues to loom large. The most likely scenario is that an increase in the debt ceiling will be coupled with stringent, annual caps on discretionary spending. The appropriations committees in the House and Senate will then be charged with making the funding cuts necessary to meet the fiscal year 2012 spending cap.
Unless we speak up and urge all those we know to join us, the NIH and other health agencies could be facing dramatic, unprecedented budget cuts. For example, a budget cap that requires an annual discretionary decrease of $100 billion would translate into roughly a 17% cut in non-defense discretionary spending. If spending cuts are spread evenly across all programs, as some members of Congress have proposed, a 17% cut would mean a $5 billion dollar reduction in NIH funding and a $1 billion dollar reduction in NSF funding. CDC and the other health agencies would face similar, devastating cuts.
We must convince policymakers of what we know to be true: robust support for health research is not an arbitrary use of federal funds, it is a strategic investment in the economic potential of our nation and the health and well-being of Americans. Simply put, cutting federal research spending is NOT a deficit reduction strategy. Policymakers need to hear from us that federally-supported research and research conducted by private sector companies go hand in hand to produce medical breakthroughs. Countries like China are increasing their R&D investment, and it is not acceptable for the U.S. to fall behind.
We’ve had such a terrific response to our weekly letters, both from individuals and from organizations like the Food Allergy Initiative, which sent our advocacy materials to 40,000 people. We need to build on this momentum and work together to fight for health research.
A link to our latest advocacy alert can be found here. These alerts are an important way for constituents to speak out and stay informed about legislative issues that impact health research. Following this link also enables you to send personalized messages to your representatives. To maximize the impact of these alerts, share this link with your networks and “Like” the alert on Facebook or on other social media.
In addition, we provide a brief historical perspective on federal research, with a quote and some insight on the importance of research from a radio address by former President Reagan.
Leveraging the power of personal networks is essential for effective advocacy. This week, we provide some suggested language for reaching out to friends and colleagues via email and Facebook to ask that they become advocates too.
Lastly, letting Congress and the public know that research is essential for our economy is of the utmost importance. We provide two web tools to help make the case that research is indispensable to state economies.
Thank you for your efforts. Together, we will make a difference.
An Historical Perspective
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan delivered a radio address on the federal role in scientific research. This week, we?d like to highlight a quote that holds great meaning during today?s fiscal constraints and ongoing debate over national priorities:
“We cannot know where scientific research will lead. The consequences and spin-offs are unknown and unknowable until they happen. In research, as Albert Einstein once said, imagination is more important than knowledge. We can travel wherever the eye of our imagination can see. But one thing is certain: If we don’t explore, others will, and we’ll fall behind. This is why I’ve urged Congress to devote more money to research. After taking out inflation, today’s government research expenditures are 58 percent greater than the expenditures of a decade ago. It is an indispensable investment in America’s future.
–President Ronald Reagan, 1988 radio address
Template Email for Involving Your Friends, Family, and Colleagues in Advocacy
We also encourage you to reach out to individuals in your network that may be willing to speak out on behalf of medical research. The following template may be used in correspondence.
I am writing you today because Congress is currently making decisions that could dramatically affect our health. Congress has already cut funding for medical research, a decision that will slow progress toward finding new life-saving treatments and cures. I?m asking for your help in speaking out to prevent cuts to medical research. Please, take 30 seconds to send a message to Congress to let them know that you do not support cuts to medical research, by following this link.
In addition to reaching out via email, Facebook can also be a highly effective tool for increasing the impact of advocacy. What follows is brief status update or wall post that can be used for a personal or organizational Facebook page.
Tell Congress: Enough is Enough. No More Cuts to Medical Research.
How much does the federal government invest in my state?
Members of Congress and their staff are often surprised at just how large an impact health research has in their state. Informing policymakers and their staff is a crucial step in effective advocacy. To assist you in this effort, Research!America has developed a web feature that allows you to see how much federal research funding your state is receiving. We highly recommend citing this important data in your outreach to Congress.
What is the economic impact of research in my state?
We have an additional web tool that provides further evidence of the economic impact of research funding by state. This data aggregates total R&D funding, including industry, and contains information on the number of research-intensive jobs along with salary data. Given the fragile state of our national economy, it is essential for Congress and the public to understand that research is a powerful state economic driver that improves our health and forms the foundation of our 21st century economy.