UW's Young: Reasonable solution needed to 'cliff'

Guest Opinion: University President Michael Young writes about the high stakes for research, business and students in a D.C. compromise.
University of Washington President Michael Young

University of Washington President Michael Young University of Washington

Everyone knows what the task is for the remainder of the year in Congress. The so-called fiscal cliff looms, and the challenge confronts each and every member. If past patterns are any indication, at the eleventh hour, on the edge of the precipice, Congress and the president will find a way to agree and a short-term compromise solution will be found. It is a nerve-wracking way to govern, but it is also part of the political process to which we have all become — perhaps a little too complacently — accustomed.

Much of the attention of going over the cliff has been focused on national defense and the health care safety net. But cuts resulting from sequestration threaten many more programs, particularly ones that would affect education, science and research, all of which would have serious consequences for our nation’s and our state’s future economic competitiveness.

Here at the University of Washington, for example, where federally funded research is looking for ways to regenerate damaged human cells from our own stem cells or create new vaccines to protect from deadly disease, the 8 percent automatic cuts would result in an immediate loss of $83 million in research funding alone, along with thousands of jobs related to that funding. These are impacts we can ill afford as the country continues to pull itself up from the economic abyss of 2008.

Clearly, the nation must reduce its budget deficit. But it must do so in a balanced and strategic way that does not compromise our ability to innovate, compete and grow our economy. For more than half a century, federally funded research has driven innovation, productivity, job creation and economic growth. In Washington state and the Puget Sound region, scientific and biomedical research generates innovations and discoveries that lead to new technologies, products and industries that improve our quality of life.

More than 260 companies have been created over the years from discoveries made at the UW, many of which grew out of research funded from the federal budget. Keeping our country competitive and ahead of the rest of the world requires the continued federal investment in innovation. 

Solving our nation’s budget mess in a thoughtful and strategic way is essential. The rough-hewn approach of sequestration threatens too many programs that seek to ensure a better life for all Americans. So many of the challenges America faces — from climate change to curing diseases to perfecting alternative sources of energy and preserving the vitality of our planet — depend on research at our nation’s universities funded by federal tax dollars.

The stakes for us at the UW and the region are particularly high. For almost four decades, the University has been the number one recipient of federal research dollars among all public universities in the nation. As the third largest non-military employer in the state of Washington, one-third of our employment impact is related to this research mission. Important work will be interrupted or cease without a solution to the current federal budget impasse.

I appeal to our leaders in Congress to practice the fine art of compromise — the essence of political action without which no progress is possible. The solution will not be perfect; it must be practical and real. 

Michael K. Young is president of the University of Washington.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Dec 4, 10:49 a.m. Inappropriate

The wonderful thing about the so-called fiscal cliff is that it is a truly modern phenomenon -- a virtual crisis. It has no existence other than as a projection the minds of the politicians who created it. So having figured out how to make it, it seems reasonable to suppose the politicians also will know how to fix it. Especially when they come to understand that the public will tar and feather them if they don't.

woofer

Posted Tue, Dec 4, 11 a.m. Inappropriate

I would support a significant reduction in federal tax money going to UW and start with $0.00 for 'climate change research'. Why assume that in 4 decades of 'grant gobbling' that all the federal dollars are spent wisely and better here? Is UW guaranteed a perpetual federal dollar gravy train? A full performance audit of the entire UW budget and all of its funding is long overdue. Not every UW job position would survive. Bring on the 'cliff' and the long overdue spending cuts.

animalal

Posted Wed, Dec 5, 11:47 p.m. Inappropriate

We pay for the research, and 260 companies get created, as well as existant companies using the research. What do we get? To pay exhorbitant profit to these companies for technology we created, and payed for. We even have corporations with buildings at UW. I am all for research; but not if the results of the research mainly benefits the wealthy shareholders of corporations, and corporations.

Much of the technolocal research results in products which end up being made in China, or overseas. So, our payed for research even benefits the country of China. We get to pay profit to China as well as the corporation for our own technology, created with our money.

Much government funded research is used in the I-Phone, how much money are we being payed by Apple for the technology?

Public research has become a subsidy to corporations. Much of the public research is directed by corporations.

Public reasearch is a good thing; but the system must change so that the public gets the greatest benefit of the research. An I-phone made at a slave factory in China (Jobs was a scumbag)benefits the United States Citizen very little. Public research is another area where corporate interests call the shots, and extract the benefit.

jhande

Posted Fri, Dec 7, 9:30 a.m. Inappropriate

Sure, the fiscal cliff is as vertial as the corporate welfare system --

Even staid New York Times has that story ---


UNITED STATES OF SUBSIDIES

A series examining business incentives and their impact on jobs and local economies.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/01/us/government-incentives.html#co-weyerhaeuser

As a former report in New Mexico, Arizona, West Texas, and who ended up down south -- Mexico and Central America -- it's been made clear to hundreds of mayors, governors, business folk, activists and members of dozens of civil society groups that all those loans and tax abatements and give-aways and soft and hard cash given to Amazon dot com or Microsoft, all of them, what that has done is yank the heart and soul out of communities, and entire regions. So, let's bark up that tree too, Crosscut commentors. Subsidizing MNCs and off-shoring One Percenters, well, maybe we can wrap our arms around that conversation too while going after universities -- that is, the faculty and students. Do we have bloat at the top at UW? Read Ginsberg's Fall of the Faculty or log onto Chronicle of Higher Education. Bloat at the Top Disease brought to us by the new MBA, the new PhD in institutional leadership, brough to us by deanlets and that ADMIN class that hops from college to college to get those high fat salaries.

But, most anything conceived in this consumer-addicted society, both the good and the bad, well, those solutions and the problems caused, and the unintended consequences, well, those are coming from our schools. It isn't going to be Walmart U or Microsoft College that will be solving the world's problems. Just check out AGRA at the Gates Found. Check out the counter-argument to AGRA -- AGRA Watch.

So, I'd say revamp colleges, make them larger forces in communities, cut the on-line madness, bring all those campuses back to life and have them work as incubators for small business and huge think tank solutionaires.

PaulKirk

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