Obama: Sequester could ground scientific research for several years

April 29, 2013 at 2:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 29 (UPI) -- Across-the-board cuts in federal spending for government agencies could mean losing up to two years of scientific research, U.S. President Obama said Monday.

"And right now, we're on the brink of amazing breakthroughs that have the chance, the potential to change life for the better -- which is why we can't afford to gut these investments in science and technology," Obama said in remarks recognizing the 150th anniversary of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. "Unfortunately, that's what we're facing right now. Because of the across-the-board cuts that Congress put in place ... [are] hitting our scientific research."

Instead of pushing ahead on the next 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," Obama said, "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."

The pace of technological innovation today means the nation can't afford to "stand still for a year or two years or three years," the president said. "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."

When adequately funded, "nobody does it better" than the United States, Obama said, adding his goal was to reach a level of private and public investment "we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race."

He also pledge to "protect our rigorous peer review system" and fund proposals that promise "the biggest bang for taxpayer dollars."

"And I will keep working to make sure that our scientific research does not fall victim to political maneuvers or agendas that in some ways would impact on the integrity of the scientific process," Obama said. "That's what's going to maintain our standards of scientific excellence for years to come.

Finally, Obama said, the country must support the next generation of scientific dreamers and risk-takers.

"Because if we are," he said, "things will be good."

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