Obama’s Research Challenge
In the week following his re-election, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to invest in scientific research. Obama said that one of the main aims of his administration would be to ensure that the US “is a global leader in research and technology and clean energy, which will attract new companies and high-wage jobs to America.” But a sharply divided Congress and the prospect of wide-ranging budget cuts resulting from the looming “fiscal cliff” present sizeable obstacles.
If the President fails to broker a deal with Congress to reduce the federal budget deficit by $1.2 trillion before January 2, 2013, automatic budget cuts kick in for federal agencies. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that most funding agencies would have their budgets cut by 8.2%. Universities and research agencies that receive grant money through such channels are bracing themselves. Claude Canizares, vice-president for research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Nature that such cuts would mean a loss of $40 million for the university.