The rancorous budget debates between the administration and Congress obscure the fact that our nation's leadership in science and innovation is tenuous at best if spending for research is cut drastically. The latest proposals in the House and Senate would put funding for medical research at risk, even though such research drives new businesses, new jobs and new treatments and cures for patients now and in the future. Stagnant funding for the National Institutes of Health has led to historic lows in the number of grants awarded to researchers, which will inevitably slow the pace of scientific discovery and development of new therapies and products. As health care costs continue to rise, we must be realistic about the tools we have at our disposal to bend the cost curve. Research to find cures for diseases like Alzheimer's is our best hope of preventing catastrophic growth in Medicare spending. Furthermore, the budgetary situation on Capitol Hill throws into doubt our elected leaders' commitment to global leadership in research and development, and if our leadership in that arena falters, so will our economic competitiveness overall.
Many Americans are concerned about our ability to maintain the nation's competitive edge. Research!America polling shows a majority of Americans (58%) are skeptical that the U.S. will be a world leader in science and technology by the year 2020. We urge lawmakers to keep in mind that some federal investments, like investments in medical research, will achieve goals they have set for our nation--a lower deficit, a thriving economy and a healthier population.
--The Honorable John Edward Porter