Alexander: Out-of-Control Spending Jeopardizes Advanced Research, U.S. Position as Leader in Innovation

Posted on February 27, 2013

Says, “It’s hard to think of a major technological advance that didn’t have some element of government-sponsored research”

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“All the talk in Washington today is about the automatic spending reductions in the so-called sequester. But the real problem is the automatic spending increases, led by Medicare and Medicaid, that are soaking up the dollars that Washington needs to support advanced research.”– Lamar Alexander 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said at a gathering today of leaders in energy research that entitlement spending and the country’s fiscal woes are endangering government-sponsored research that he considers critical to the nation’s economy. 

“Government-sponsored research, which has helped to provide Americans’ high standard of living, is jeopardized by runaway, out-of-control, mandatory spending increases,” Alexander said. “All the talk in Washington today is about the automatic spending reductions in the so-called sequester. But the real problem is the automatic spending increases, led by Medicare and Medicaid, that are soaking up the dollars that Washington needs to support advanced research. It’s hard to think of a major technological advance that didn’t have some element of government-sponsored research.”

The senator spoke at the APRA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C., a gathering of more than 2,000 energy entrepreneurs and researchers. ARPA-E is a division of the Department of Energy designed to encourage innovation and private investment in the energy industry, created by legislation in 2007 that Alexander authored and helped pass. 

Alexander said that legislation – the America COMPETES Act – is set to expire in September, and pledged to push for its reauthorization. He told the audience at the summit that government-sponsored research has led to advancements in oil and natural gas and electric vehicles, among other successes, exemplifying how such advances lead to cheap energy and economic prosperity.

In a speech on the Senate floor in June 2012, Alexander discussed the kinds of advances in energy research ARPA-E is designed to achieve, saying, “The National Academy of Sciences tells us that half our economic growth since World War II has come from these technological advances. Maybe one of the best examples is shale gas. It has been around for a century. A lot of people have been trying to do it, but even Mitchell Energy, the people who stuck it out in advanced shale gas, said it couldn't have happened without the Department of Energy, and it could not have happened without the invention of 3-D drilling from Sandia National Laboratory.”

 

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