President Donald Trump’s federal budget proposal would precipitously cut our country’s annual investment in research. It would slash $5.8 billion (nearly 20 percent) of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and cut the National Science Foundation budget by nearly 10 percent.
The budget also includes deep cuts to the Food and Drug Administration, and absorption of the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) into NIH with elimination of the funding for AHRQ. The annual total of the unprecedented cuts to research would tally about $7 billion nationally, and would virtually ensure the NIH would be unable to award any new grants next year.
These cuts would have catastrophic effects on people in Wisconsin and elsewhere waiting for new discoveries that lead to treatments and cures. The proposed cuts would undermine our efforts to address health care disparities and to find cost-effective ways to treat cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and asthma.
Further, these cuts follow an erosion of purchasing power of NIH grants by about 25 percent over the last 15 years. The Medical College of Wisconsin, UW-Madison, Marquette, UW-Milwaukee and Versiti/BloodCenter of Wisconsin competed for and earned about $400 million of research funding from the NIH alone in federal fiscal year 2016, and the proposed budget would eliminate about $100 million from Wisconsin research institutions in 2018.
Each $1 million of NIH funding has been estimated to create 17.5 jobs in the sponsoring institutions and their supply chains — and to have a regional economic impact of $2.2 million and $2.6 million. So those cuts will cost Wisconsin nearly 2,000 jobs and $220 million to $260 million annually.
The cuts would diminish our country’s leadership position in biomedical and applied research at a time when other countries — especially India, China, the European Union and Pacific Rim countries — are investing heavily in research. I respectfully but vigorously oppose the proposed cuts.