When I’ve written and talked about sequestration—deep, automatic cuts that will take place in the absence of a budget deal—people’s eyes seem to glaze over. Sequestration: it’s a ridiculous word that comes out of arcane Washington-speak. The word itself conveys obfuscation. It’s hard to follow, and hard to swallow.
Sandra Swain, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said to Paul Goldberg, editor of The Cancer Letter, “I think it’s very clear that sequestration will have a shattering impact on the entire cancer enterprise in the U.S.” She said that ultimately, these cuts will hurt cancer patients. John Seffrin, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society, said that, “sequestration could cost us a decade of progress in medical research.” And cancer is just one example. No sector will be protected, including defense.
I dread, dread, the thought of laying people off if faculty members’ grants are cut dramatically, but it could happen. I do my job. I manage the School’s budget even though it is difficult, sometimes unpleasant and even painful. I want Congress to do its job. We need a budget, however imperfect. As the President has said, we must pay our bills. Can’t we just get on with it?
Harold Varmus, Nobel Prize winner, former head of the National Institutes of Health and current leader of the National Cancer Institute, said, “I would like to think that more of our advocates and scientists—and those who are affected by a sharp reduction of our budget—would be calling their members of Congress.” So far, there haven’t been a tsunami of calls.
Consider calling or writing a member of Congress to express your concerns. It could make a difference. Really.
Thank you and happy Monday. Barbara