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SPIE Urges Congress, President to Avoid Fiscal Cliff and Support Science and Technology to Strengthen Economy
Date:12/10/2012

Bellingham, WA (PRWEB) December 10, 2012

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and other science, engineering, and education organizations are urging the President and Congress to find a balanced, bipartisan plan including tax and entitlement reform to avoid the fiscal cliff ? one that ensures strong support for economy-building science and technology enterprise.

Economic growth in the industrialized world since World War II has been driven by innovation and technological progress, the letter to Congressional leaders and President Obama says. Besides spawning the Global Positioning System, the laser, and the Internet, technology has enabled countless medical advances that have helped save the lives of millions of heart disease, cancer and diabetes patients, among others. Almost every national priority — from health and defense, to agriculture and conservation — relies on science and engineering, the letter notes.

Federal R&D investments account for less than one-fifth of the current discretionary budget, but discretionary spending is the only place where deep cuts would be made if sequestration goes into effect, the letter observes: “Placing a significant burden on these crucial areas is nothing less than a threat to national competitiveness.”

The letter warns that several countries in Asia and Europe have increased their research intensities substantially and at a far faster pace than the United States, threatening the nation’s long-term leadership position in science, technology and innovation. “Allowing blunt cuts to R&D to go forward will only accelerate these trends,” the letter says.

Much is at stake, noted SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. “Our nation's leaders are wrestling with our dire financial problems and we applaud their efforts. While
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