President Trump’s so-called “skinny budget” for the 2018 fiscal year proposes major cuts to our nation’s health research agencies, among other program cuts designed to shift dollars to defense. Another wave of proposed cuts to the still-unresolved fiscal 2017 budget has also been released. “Proposed” is a key word here, since it is the Congress, not the President, that determines spending. (More often than not, over the last three decades, presidents have proposed cuts in science budgets, only to see the Congress allocate more support to science.) All signals are that this President’s budget is not being warmly received on Capitol Hill, but that doesn’t mean we can afford to dismiss it. The proposed cuts are large and the accompanying language begs the question, “why should the government pay for research?”
Our answer is clear: the public should pay because research is a public good. It is like defense in that regard. By my math, the U.S. spent roughly $645.3 billion to defend our nation last year, and about a fraction as much ($33.5 billion) to defend our health. If you agree that research is a public good, this is the time to call your elected representatives. Say ‘no’ to the Trump budget cuts for science! And say 'yes' to the March for Science on April 22.