Feb 20

Reported by Chris Mooney in Discover, February 18th 2011.

From the text of John Holdren’s recent congressional testimony on the science budget (also available here):

All told, this Budget proposes $66.8 billion for civilian research and development, an increase of $4.1 billion or 6.5 percent over the 2010 funding level in this category. But the Administration is committed to reducing the deficit even as we prime the pump of discovery and innovation. Accordingly, our proposed investments in R&D, STEM education, and infrastructure fit within an overall non-security discretionary budget that would be frozen at 2010 levels for the second year in a row. The Budget reflects strategic decisions to focus resources on those areas where the payoff for the American people is likely to be highest.

This is similar to what Chris Mooney argued with Meryl Comer in the Los Angeles Times in December–tough economic times are the times to invest in science, not cut it.

Holdren concludes:

Let me reiterate, in closing, the guiding principle underlying this Budget: America’s strength, prosperity, and global leadership depend directly on the investments we’re willing to make in R&D, in STEM education, and in infrastructure.

Investments in these domains are the ultimate act of hope, the source of the most important legacy we can leave. Only by sustaining them can we assure future generations of Americans a society and place in the world worthy of the history of this great Nation, which has been building its prosperity and global leadership on a foundation of science, technology, and innovation since the days of Jefferson and Franklin.

In hard times, you don’t give up on vision. You knuckle down, sure, but you also look ahead. (Meanwhile, Paul Krugman reminds us today that the budget debate is deeply mis-aligned because we’re so focused on cutting the smallest part of the budget, when the real issues are healthcare costs and tax revenue.)

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