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Jewish World Review April 6, 2001 / 13 Nissan 5761

Morton Kondracke

Kondracke
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Newtie versus Dubya?


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- PRESIDENT BUSH is keeping his promise to help double the federal government's medical research budget, but he's facing criticism for low-balling other research vital to U.S. productivity.

Democrats, scientists, corporate groups -and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) - have protested net cuts after inflation in the budgets of the National Science Foundation, NASA and energy research.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee last month, Gingrich said it is important for our national security that Congress increase Bush's science budget request.

Gingrich represented a blue-ribbon commission on national security headed by former Sens. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) and Gary Hart (D-Colo.), which concluded that, next to terrorist attacks within our borders, flagging science investment and science education are the greatest foreseeable threats to the United States.

In an interview earlier, Gingrich told me that the budget for the NSF, which supports non-medical university research and trains scientists, "should be $11 billion," not the $4.5 billion that Bush requested. The President's mere $56 million boost for NSF was "a tragic mistake," he said.

Bush's budget calls for a 13 percent increase for the National Institutes of Health, but only a 2.5 percent increase for other civilian science, space and technology programs - a cut after inflation is taken into account.

The Defense Science Board also has protested that defense research other than missile defense is not receiving adequate funding.

Gingrich and other critics argued that failure to support basic scientific research will stifle innovation and productivity that fuel economic growth.

Newt returns

Specific areas needing funds, they said, include development of "post-silicon" computer chips, climate change and alternative energy sources, such as fusion, earthquake detection and advanced imaging.

Bush met with a group of high-tech executives last week and extolled their past performance. "This administration has great confidence in the future of the high-technology industry," he said, despite recent drops in technology stocks.

"You've changed the way we work and communicate, and you've changed the way we learn," he said. "You've done for American economic leadership in the 21st century what heavy industry did in the 20th century."

"You've done so much for your country, it's time for your country to do something for you," he added. In other words, cut their income taxes and extend the tax credit for corporate research-and-development expenses.

However, Bush's critics, particularly Democrats, say his tax cuts are actually crowding out investments in research and endangering the long-term growth of the economy.

Democrats on the House Budget Committee proposed scientific spending 50 percent higher than what House Republicans approved, following Bush's request.

In an interview, Bush budget director Mitch Daniels said, "We did what we felt we could afford" in science funding.

Daniels added that "we'll listen" if Congress wants to find more money for science by cutting other programs to stay within spending limits.

He acknowledged that the proposed increase for NSF is "very small," but said the agency had received 7 percent more funds last year. Moreover, he noted that some energy research amounts to subsidies for corporations, which should be investing more themselves.

The Bush budget contains a $2.8 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health. Daniels said Bush plans a $4.1 billion increase next year to complete the task of doubling NIH's budget over five years.

After that, he said, it may be "appropriate" to shift funds to other scientific research. But critics, including the former head of NIH, Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus, argue that medical research is being held back by underfunding in other areas, such as imaging and computing.

For instance, Gingrich said it's theoretically possible for surgeons to use images and computers to perform "virtual surgery" on patients as practice for actual operations, thereby limiting mistakes.

The critics' strongest case, however, is economic. A group of industry executives and scientific organizations headed by the National Association of Manufacturers wrote Bush in February that "If we cut federal investment in science today, it will be at the cost of lower productivity increases tomorrow."

Groups protesting Bush's budget often quote Alan Bromley, his father's White House science adviser, who declared in a New York Times op-ed piece in early March that "The proposed cuts in scientific research are a self-defeating policy" for an administration that wants to encourage growth and budget surpluses.

"No science, no surplus. It's that simple," Bromley concluded.



JWR contributor Morton Kondracke is executive editor of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. Send your comments by clicking here.

Up

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03/29/01: As economy wilts, is Bush too passive on early tax cuts?
03/27/01: Ex-Clinton Adviser Thinks Bush Needs More Upbeat 'Vision'
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02/26/01: Bush should talk about long-term budget challenges
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02/20/01: When will Dems finally say Clinton is unfit leader?
02/14/01: McCain won't run against Bush again, just differ on issues
02/12/01: Is Joe Lieberman tilting left toward 2004?
02/07/01: The controversy starts: Bush orders HHS study of fetal, stem cell issues
02/05/01: Dems move toward bush on taxes, but ...
02/01/01: Bush should be open with press
01/30/01: Bush Should go for broke early on education
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01/19/01: Bush should try for legacy as 'Great Reconciler'
01/16/01: Left-Center Rift Re-emerges For Democratic Leaders
01/12/01: Clinton doing Bush no favors in Mideast
01/09/01: Bush and Democrats can deal
12/14/00: Will Daschle make it his business to get along with President Bush?
12/08/00: GOP is in danger of ruining record on medical research
11/27/00: Some fascinating stories about how and why people voted
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11/20/00: Can next president and Hill deal?
11/15/00: With nation split, leaders must reach across party divide
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04/25/00: Should Clinton be indicted?
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04/18/00: Levin's 'bridge' key to China trade?
04/11/00: Congress, U.S. Voters Still Aren't Ready For Campaign Reform
04/06/00: Bush, Gore Silent As Popular Culture Gets Ever Coarser
03/30/00: Is 2000 Like 1948, 1976 or 1960? Or Is This Unparalleled?
03/28/00: Will Bush, Gore Go for a Better Way To Pick Nominees?
03/23/00: Medicare cutbacks bleed hospitals
03/20/00: Chances Improve That China Trade Will Pass Congress
03/16/00: Lieberman as veep would help Gore
03/14/00: Can Bush, McCain Unite to Beat Gore?
03/09/00: Can GOP Forge Unity After Nasty McCain-Bush Race?
03/07/00: What accounts for McCain's excesses?
03/02/00: 'Debate' Proved Gore Is This Year's Best Gut-Fighter
02/29/00: Surprises! The 2000 GOP race is full of it
02/25/00: Voters want centrist in White House
02/23/00: Gore would hit McCain's record
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02/08/00: Bush must retool his entire campaign
01/27/00: Could Gore beat Bush as Truman beat Dewey?
01/20/00: Big New Surplus Estimates Could Alter 2000 Politics
12/21/99: Bush improves, everyone panders
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12/10/99: Gore won GOP 'debate' in N.H.
12/07/99: Election pits Bush cuts vs. Medicare boost
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11/19/99: White House race may be best in decades
11/16/99: Where is Bush on health care fight?
11/11/99: Will TV stop profiteering from politics?
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10/27/99: Bush to fight 'culture wars' -- positively
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10/19/99: Gore scores among party big shots, but polls go South
10/14/99: Bush critiques could help GOP Congress
10/12/99: Congress can save health care from ruin
10/07/99: Will gun-control cause the GOP to shoot itself in the foot?
10/05/99: Gore moves: Desperate but necessary
10/01/99: Fox, Armstrong make case for NIH
09/28/99: Dems' race brightens Bush's chances
09/23/99: East Timor deflates `Clinton Doctrine'
09/21/99: Buchanan v. Bush? Yeah right
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09/15/99: Bush's education problem
09/09/99: Budget makes 2000 an `issues' election
09/07/99:Airport rage increases, with good reason
09/02/99: U.S. future up for grabs in 2000
08/31/99: U.S. Capitol needs visitor's center -- soon
08/24/99: Will 2000 be the year of the foreign crisis?
08/19/99: Neither party has upper hand for '99
08/17/99: Ford gets freedom medal one month early
08/12/99: There's time to catch Bush, say Gore aides
08/10/99: Rudy, Hillary try much-needed makeovers
08/09/99: GOP must launch new probe of Chinagate
08/02/99: Pols blow fiscal smoke on budget surplus
08/02/99: One campaign reform should pass: disclosure
07/27/99: Gore leads Bush in policy proposals

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