Monday, 27 March 2017

Trump Proposes to Cut Government Funding for Research

CNN recently reported on President Trump’s proposed budget and noted serious cuts to government funding for research.  Specifically, the article states:

The National Institutes of Health budget would be cut by $5.8 billion, meaning it would lose about 20%. The Environmental Protection Agency would face $2.6 billion in cuts, that's 31% of the agency's budget. The Department of Energy would lose $900 million, or about 20% of its budget. Health and Human Services would see a $15.1 billion or 18% budget cut; as part of that, it shifts costs to industry from the Food and Drug Administration budget. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would face an 18% budget cut.

As the article describes, a number of groups have criticized the proposed budget.  A recent Denver Post opinion piece by Noah Smith, a Bloomberg commentator, notes that the U.S. innovation system works well because we actually have a “pipeline” of new discoveries running to commercialized inventions.  Smith states that Trump is cutting off the new discoveries and essentially putting the U.S. at a disadvantage.  As this blog has noted, the Obama Administration basically kept funding for research almost level, but the budget was decreasing in terms of real dollars.  This was considered bad.  If we actually cut at the levels Trump wants to cut, we will be in a much worse position.  As Smith notes, the rust belt has somewhat been revitalized by biotech and cutting the NIH budget will retard the growth of one of the United States’ most promising industries. 

Importantly, Congress must pass the budget.  And, if my memory serves me correctly, President George W. Bush also proposed to cut government funding for research at the outset of his presidency and later retracted that proposal.  I imagine that someone explained to the Bush Administration how important government funding for research is for industry and the U.S. economy—hopefully that will happen for the Trump Administration. 

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