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Science Advocates Call for Budget Boost. Again

Neal Lane and Norm Augustine, two science policy analysts, have presented a report warning that research and development spending in the US will soon be outpaced, ScienceInsider's Jeffrey Mervis says. But as Mervis notes, many previous reports have come to similar conclusions.

"Sometimes I feel that we're plowing the ocean," says the University of Michigan's James Duderstadt, a member of the panel put together by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that developed the report. "Sure, there have been lots of previous studies that covered similar ground, but the feeling was that we needed to pull all of it together to generate some momentum."

The new report calls for increasing federal spending on basic research so that it eventually reaches 0.3 percent of the gross domestic product; it's currently some 0.19 percent and it only peaked at 0.22 percent at the height of the doubling of the NIH budget.

Lane notes that that is a "rather ambitious" plan, but argues that it is necessary, as "science and engineering have become even more important as drivers of economic growth."

Mervis adds, though, that getting lawmakers on board may be difficult.