President Barack Obama told a gathering of scientists last week that the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration could harm scientific research for several years. The president made his remarks at the 150th annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. on April 29.
“Instead of racing ahead on the next cutting-edge discovery, our scientists are left wondering if they’ll get to start any new projects, any new research projects at all over the next few years, which means that we could lose a year, two years of scientific research as a practical matter because of misguided priorities here in this town.
With the pace of technological innovation today, we can’t afford to stand still for a year or two years or three years. We’ve got to seize every opportunity we have to stay ahead. And we can’t let other countries win the race for ideas and technology of the future. And I say that, by the way, not out of just any nationalistic pride — although, obviously, that’s part of it — but it’s also because nobody does it better than we do when it’s adequately funded, when it’s adequately supported.”
The sequester has resulted in about a five-percent reduction in federal agency spending, with greater cuts expected next year if changes are not made. President Obama has called for increased spending in the sciences — his 2014 budget included a one-percent increase for scientific endeavors and he told a gathering at the White House Science Fair that he would like to see the investment in research increase to levels not seen since the space race of the 1960’s.
Video of the speech is here.