Romney: Cut Here, We Don’t Need that Bone; Cut There, We Don’t Need that Brain….

… from Neal F Lane in the NY Times….

 it is astonishing that Mr. Romney talks about economic growth while planning deep cuts in investment in science, technology and education. They are among the discretionary items for which spending could be cut 22 percent or more under the Republican budget plan, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities….

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the plan, which Mr. Romney has endorsed, could cut overall nondefense science, engineering, biomedical and technology research by a quarter over the next decade, and energy research by two-thirds.

Mr. Romney seems to have lost sight of the critical role of research investments not only in developing new medicines and cleaner energy sources but also in creating higher-skilled jobs.

The private sector can’t do it alone. We rely on companies to translate scientific discoveries into products. But federal investment in research and development, especially basic research, is critical to their success. Just look at Google, which was started by two graduate students working on a project supported by the National Science Foundation and today employs 54,000 people.

Richard K. Templeton, chief executive of Texas Instruments, put it this way in 2009: “Research conducted at universities and national labs underpins the new innovations that drive economic growth.”

President Bill Clinton, for whom I served as science adviser from 1998 to 2001, understood that. In those years, we balanced the federal budget and achieved strong growth, creating about two million jobs a year. A main reason was the longstanding bipartisan consensus on investing in science. With support from Congress, Mr. Clinton put research funding on a growth path, including a doubling over five years (completed under President George W. Bush) of the budget for the National Institutes of Health.

In 2010, the federal government invested about $26.6 billion in N.I.H. research; those investments led to $69 billion in economic activity and supported 485,000 jobs across the country, according to United for Medical Research, a nonpartisan group.

Moreover, the $3.8 billion taxpayers invested in the Human Genome Project between 1988 and 2003 helped create and drive $796 billion in economic activity by industries that now depend on the advances achieved in genetics, according to the Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit group that supports research for the industry.

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