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Overton: Cut the fat

BY JON OVERTON | FEBRUARY 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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The national budget has gotten a bit hefty, and we need to cut it. Congress has decided that if it can’t reach an agreement on a necessary liposuction, it’s just going to randomly start lopping off bits of fat.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll act at the last minute and pass lackluster measures that don’t actually do much to cut the budget, like the fiscal-cliff deal.

If Congress doesn’t act to stop the upcoming crisis it intentionally created, what’s called the sequestration will go into effect on Friday, and the University of Iowa could lose up to $30 million in research funding.

This is obviously a terrible prospect and should be avoided at all costs.

Social Security and Medicaid are exempt from the sequestration, so why not make an exemption for scientific research?

It’s not as though the rest of the budget is squeezed as tightly as it can be. Here are some options.
Do we actually need more than 47,000 troops stationed in Germany or around 11,000 in Italy or 9,000 in the UK? The European Union has its own military made up of the forces of all member states, and all three of the mentioned nations are members of NATO. We don’t regularly send aid packages to prosperous nations, so why would we blow so much money protecting those who are perfectly safe?

And what about raising taxes? Sure, they’re unpopular, but the correlation between tax rates and economic growth is virtually nonexistent. Also, if you tell people, “We either have to raise your taxes or cut funding to medical research facilities,” most people would probably be just fine with paying higher taxes.

I understand the need to cut the budget and that we’re spending more than we should, but let’s be intelligent about this. Let’s stop the petty bickering, act like adults, and decide what we need and what we don’t need.

Successful weight-loss programs don’t chop off random limbs, and effective budget cuts don’t indiscriminately eliminate funding to invaluable scientific endeavors.


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