Dear Senator

Sheesh. Of course science is the first thing they try to cut from the pending stimulus bill. Text free for the taking to anyone who wants to pester their congresscritters – which you should, if you care about science in the U.S.

OK, so it gets a little melodramatic at the end there, but I’m trying for impact. Edit as you see fit – individualized letters are more likely to have an impact.

Dear Senator,

I’m a graduate student in biology at the University of Idaho, and I’m writing to ask that you support President Obama’s stimulus plan, with full funding for basic scientific research.

Science and technology – the fruits of basic scientific research funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and other government scientific agencies – are responsible for half of all U.S. economic growth since World War II. Yet today, after years of virtually no increases in basic research funding, laboratories across the country are at risk of shutting down, with untold consequences for our long-term competitiveness in the global economy.

Basic research makes economic sense over the short term, too – with the increase in funding proposed in the stimulus bill, granting agencies would immediately be able to fund more of the grant requests they’re considering right now. That’s money to pay lab staff, and buy reagents and equipment – most often from American companies like Thermo Fisher and Qiagen.

For these reasons, the stimulus bill before the Senate originally contained vital increases in basic scientific research funding. Now, however, a group of senators, including Susan Collins and Ben Nelson, are proposing cuts to the stimulus bill that would eliminate much – and in the case of NSF, all – funding for science. Considering what a tiny portion of the bill’s proposed spending was already devoted to science funding, and the immediate and long-term value it would have brought our economy, this is a shortsighted idea at best.

So I hope you will give full support to President Obama’s stimulus bill, and reject the Collins-Nelson cuts in science funding. The scientific and economic future of our nation depend on this.

Jeremy B. Yoder

[I should also note that the talking points above come from an email sent out by Shawn Otto over the ScienceDebate2008 e-mail list; I can’t find coverage of this issue on the SD2008 site, however.]