Fiscal cliff: the beginning of the end?

The fiscal cliff is a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that would slow the pace of research and cost thousands of science jobs across the country. President Obama and U.S. House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) have each offered their own plans to avert the fiscal cliff. The president’s plan focuses on increasing tax rates on those with incomes over $250,000 per year. The speaker’s plan keeps tax rates the same as they are now, but it includes significant cuts to entitlement and discretionary spending. Federal funding for research is in the latter of these spending categories.

Until recently, both sides rejected the other’s proposal. Republicans were unwilling to raise taxes, and Democrats were unwilling to reform entitlement programs. However, over the weekend, Speaker Boehner said he would consider raising the tax rate on those making over $1 million per year and granting a one-year extension on the debt ceiling. The president is unlikely to accept the offer because it does not raise enough revenue. It also calls for changes to entitlement spending that the president has previously indicated that he would not accept. However, it is the first step toward compromise by either side since Election Day.

We at ASBMB are working hard to make sure that science funding is protected in any compromise plan. But we can’t do it alone! Head over to ASBMB’s Take Action! page to send letters and make phone calls to your representatives to tell them about the importance of funding science research. And stay tuned to the ASBMB Policy Blotter for further updates on the fiscal cliff and other science policy-related issues. You can also find ASBMB Director of Public Affairs Ben Corb (@bwcorb) and Science Policy Fellow Chris Pickett (@ChrisPickett5) on Twitter.

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