Letter to the editor
The Sequester and STEM
Congress, before the New Year began, agreed on a compromise to deal with the self-imposed âfiscal cliff,â a combination of deep spending cuts and a tax increase due to the expiration of the âBushâ tax cuts. However, this compromise only delayed the proposed sequestration cuts, which are across-the-board budget reductions for all federal agencies. Without further action, on March 1, 2013, federal support for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs will be cut by 9 percent â a reduction of more than $15 billion â as part of the sequestration cuts enacted by Congress.
It is important for our country to get our fiscal house in order, but we should not hold STEM programs hostage in order for Congress to work together. The bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Committee report noted that even as we cut spending, we need to âinvest in education, infrastructure and high-value research and development to help our economy grow, keep us globally competitive and make it easier for businesses to create jobs.â Scientific and technological enterprise is responsible for over 70 percent of modern economic growth and cutting support for these programs is the wrong thing to do. We need to invest in our future, not put an axe to it.
STEM funding supports universities, such as USC, to do cutting-edge research in order to train our future scientists and engineers. In addition, research done in universities like ours spawns a new generation of entrepreneurial opportunities in medicine, technology and engineering. This allows our nation to compete for high quality, well-paying jobs in an increasingly globalized market place.
USC is a renowned research institution and STEM cuts would hinder our university in hiring top-notch faculty and attracting top students. These cuts would also likely be felt by students in non-STEM departments, such as the humanities and social sciences, as resources are shifted to help mitigate the impact of these reductions.
Ultimately, if these cuts are not prevented, we could see fewer people employed at USC, less research taking place and long-term effects on the prosperity and innovation of this country.
Urge Congress to stop deep cuts to STEM funding. Contact your local member of congress. Sign the petition at AvoidTheFiscalCliff.org. You can also join the campaign by visiting the website and uploading a 30-60 second video that highlights the importance of federal funding for your research.Â Now is the time to act to preserve critical STEM funding for the good of the future.
Graduate Student, Price School of Public Policy