Dear Research Advocate,
As we discussed yesterday in a Research!America members-only conference call, President Obama’s budget recommendations for FY13, while positive for NSF, AHRQ and FDA, effectively flat-funded NIH, and CDC was cut dramatically. Particularly during a tough climb back to economic stability, our nation cannot afford to tread water or set back the clock on medical innovation and public health. Budget cuts have already had a negative impact on research institutions as this recent article in the Cincinnati Business Journal highlights.
During our call we heard from top White House officials that the administration’s goal is for 3% of GDP to be committed to R&D (public and private sector combined), a level not seen since the 1960s. Getting there is a heavy lift, however, particularly given the current strictures established by the Budget Control Act. The White House and the media know that we will be fighting for stronger budgets for science from Congress. Doing anything less is a ticket to reduced economic activity, stymied potential for more efficient and effective health care, and widened gaps in the infrastructure that prevent costly and potentially deadly public health incidents. Read our release on the president’s budget here and see recent articles on the president’s budget in The Hill and PharmaTimes that include portions of our statement. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will be holding a conference call tonight at 6:30 p.m. EST – be sure to call in to learn more about science in the president’s budget. RSVP here to obtain the dial-in number.
When it comes to NIH, advocates must be steadfast. There is not a lot of maneuvering room, but I still believe we can and should go farther than the president’s budget. NIH should be funded at no less than $32 billion in FY13, which is a $1.3 billion increase over the president’s request. Last year, we saw support for a $1 billion increase in NIH despite overall budget cuts. This year we need to build on that momentum, taking it from recommendations and failed amendments to reality. We have to make the case that to flat-fund NIH is to undercut the nation’s determination to return to economic growth and prosperity.
Don’t let up. Write or visit your elected representatives; a visit to your member’s local office is a great plan during one of the scheduled recesses coming up. Pen an op-ed or letter to the editor. If you are a patient, the family member of one, or a scientist, use your phone or computer to produce a video explaining why medical research is important to you and to our nation. Research!America will make sure your video makes waves. We’d be glad to help you with any of the other advocacy activities I’ve mentioned as well. And send me your ideas! Are there other ways advocates can make the case for federal research funding? Let me know your thoughts.
P.S. Election watch: Last week, the Huffington Post published a strong article by a postdoctoral scientist from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Michael Ham writes, “As calls to reduce federal benefits grow louder, we must fight short-sighted cuts to the science based engines that underlie our medical, economic, and military might.” Dr. Ham is running for U.S. Senate in Nevada and has stepped up for science as few candidates have.