House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wants to offer the social scientists a NSF budget of $0. He is a smart man who argues that there is an opportunity cost to giving the “wacky” social scientists $250 million a year. He argues that the scarce $ could be handed to “real scientists”. He writes:
Republicans and ScienceTo the Editor:Paul Krugman paints Republicans as anti-science (“The Ignorance Caucus,” column, Feb. 11). Unfortunately for Mr. Krugman, facts don’t support the allegations. The effort to double funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health began with Congressional Republicans. It was the Republican House alone that in November passed legislation ensuring that foreign-born students educated in the sciences at American colleges and universities have the opportunity to remain in this country and contribute to our nation’s scientific endeavors.
Mr. Krugman singled me out for criticism because I proposed increasing medical research funding to help save lives by reducing funding for lower-priority programs like social and political science research. Government can’t afford to pay for everything, and governing is about making choices.
The National Science Foundation finances important research helping find cures for devastating diseases. But the foundation has only enough funds to support 15 percent of the applications it receives for research grants in the biological sciences. Yet we spend nearly $250 million annually on research in the social, behavioral, economic and political arena, such as a recent $266,821 grant to figure out why voters chose the candidates they did in the 2010 election. This money could fund another 1,000 grants in life sciences!
Reprioritizing government’s existing spending to favor saving lives over more political science research is not anti-science; it’s common sense.
ERIC I. CANTORWashington, Feb. 14, 2013The writer is the House majority leader.
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