4.28.2009

Obama vows to increase funding for basic science

This is big, and very welcome news from NewScientist.com:

The honeymoon between Barack Obama and US science is still going strong.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC on Monday, the president pledged to raise total US spending on research and development by government and industry to 3% of GDP – up from the current figure of around 2.6%.

"To put a concrete number on it is terrific," says Lesley Stone, executive director of the advocacy group Scientists and Engineers for America.

Obama's speech came with the US economy in deep trouble – and with alarms rising about the threat of pandemic flu. "At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science, that support for research is somehow a luxury at moments defined by necessities," Obama said. "I fundamentally disagree."

While he put no timetable on the rise in spending, Obama's speech should help reassure those who are worried that the current lavish investment in science – as part of the "stimulus package" designed to reinvigorate the flagging economy – could be a flash in the pan.

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