Sequestration Remains a Problem.

By Michael S. Lubell

Federal Investment in R& D chart sm

By Tyler Glembo/APS

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Following a last-minute deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” sequestration is off the Washington agenda, at least for a while. But as March approaches, discretionary spending will come under increasing scrutiny. Therefore, it will be important for physicists to emphasize the historic role science and technology have played in spurring economic growth.

The path to deficit reduction, which polls have shown the public supports, ultimately lies in growing the economy. And as the Simpson-Bowles Commission noted, federal investments in science and education are essential for achieving that goal.

If the recent fiscal cliffhanger has any messages for Washington watchers, it is these.

  • First, ideological polarization will likely make cutting any deals extremely difficult until the last minute.
  • Second, increased revenues from higher tax rates, having been incorporated into the Jan. 1 legislation, will not be part of the near-term debate.
  • Third, reductions in entitlement spending will be difficult to achieve, at least for now, given significant Democratic opposition.
  • Lastly and most importantly, physicists must be ready with the message that science and technology have paid huge economic dividends for our nation, providing the foundation for innovation, new industries and jobs for Americans.

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