US Voters Oppose Science Cuts

Many Americans who are likely to vote in upcoming elections are not in favor of across-the-board cuts to non-discretionary funding.

By | September 24, 2012

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Major cuts to federal science funding loom on the horizon with the automatic sequestration provisioned by last year's Budget Control Act set to take effect in January 2013. And a new poll commissioned by science advocacy groups United for Medical Research (UMR) and Research!America suggests that likely voters are opposed to such drastic cuts to research funding.

"Across the board cuts for medical research will trigger unintended consequences that will impact millions of patients and companies on the verge of developing new treatments to combat disease," Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America, said in a statement. "Our polling shows that likely voters are fully aware of the fiscal challenges facing the nation, but feel strongly that funding for medical research should be a priority for candidates and elected officials."

The poll asked 1,014 likely voters several questions on their feelings about federal funding of research in the United States. The highlights include:

  • 51 percent said that across-the-board cuts are not the right way to reduce the deficit
  • 54 percent said that the U.S. should maintain world leadership in research.
  • 49 percent said that the U.S. should not scale back medical research funding.
  • 59 percent said that they doubt U.S. leadership in science and technology in 2020.
If legislators and Obama administration officials fail to reach consensus by January 2 on how to trim the nation's deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, the National Institutes of Health budget would lose $2.529 billion and the National Science Foundation would lose $586 million, according to estimates published last week by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). According to UMR, these cuts could cost more than 33,000 jobs and more than $4.5 billion in economic activity.

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Avatar of: David Hill

David Hill

Posts: 1457

September 24, 2012

It's our voters and their politicians who got us into the current financial disaster, which will only be worse in the future. Like the Greeks, we all want something for nothing, don't we? So, what do you want to cut, or how much do you want to raise your taxes? That should be the question. With fewer and fewer people paying federal taxes, we have a growing population of people who think that global militarization, medicaid, etc. are free programs. Do you want to cut medicaid to fund research in particle physics? How about, cut medicare and basic medical services so we can send a manned mission to the moon?

Avatar of: Julia


Posts: 1

September 25, 2012

I bet if the general public knew the poor quality of science produced through our government funding, or the amount of money those funded simply flush down the toilet, they would have a different opinion. What we really need is better funding mechanisms, better tracking of expenditures, and much more accountability from funded investigators who should be obliged to cooperate with the private sector.

Avatar of: Scientistio


Posts: 1

September 25, 2012

Actually, an objective reading of the data you give would suggest half of American voters don't think science cuts are a good thing, but the overall they're pretty ambivalent about it. Coming to your conclusions giving how slim the majority (or in the case of medical research, a slim minority) feels is hardly scientific.

(Also, 51% said we should scale back medical research? Jeez.)

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