Casey warns of lost jobs, funding in Pa. because of federal budget cuts
By Mike Wereschagin
Published: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 2:00 p.m.
Congress' inability to stitch together a budget soon could cost the United States its leadership in medical research — and cost Pennsylvania thousands of jobs, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. said Friday.
The state lost as many as 1,200 jobs and more than $70 million in research funding this year because of automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that Congress enacted after the 2011 budget impasse, Casey said.
Federal research spending plummeted by 20 percent during the budget fights of the past three years, to its lowest level since 2002, adjusted for inflation, according to a report by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which will be distributed to members of Congress next week.
“The country that has led the world in medical research is beginning to lose its edge — not because we don't have great scientists, not because we don't have great researchers, not because we don't have great doctors. ... The reason is that the politics of Washington have led to these kind of indiscriminate cuts, and we've got to reverse it,” Casey, D-Scranton, said after touring research labs at Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside.
The second round of sequestration cuts, expected to cut $90 billion overall, is scheduled to take effect in January unless members of Congress, who just reopened government last week after an impasse led to a 16-day shutdown, agree on a spending plan by mid-December.
Casey's Republican counterpart, Sen. Pat Toomey of Lehigh Valley, said he will not support rolling back those cuts, though he said agencies should get more flexibility to prioritize spending — something the law doesn't allow.
“We need to reduce federal spending to put our nation on a sustainable fiscal path for future generations,” Toomey said.
He blamed President Obama for exacerbating the sequestration's ill effects by not supporting a bill that Toomey and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., wrote, which Toomey said would have given Obama greater spending flexibility. The Senate voted down the bill.
“While I believe that the overall magnitude of the sequester's spending cuts should remain in place, I remain committed to working with my Senate colleagues on additional ways to ensure that these cuts are done in a more sensible manner that protects our nation's priorities,” Toomey said.
Federally funded research is a billion-dollar industry in Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh said on Thursday during a Pittsburgh Technology Council breakfast Downtown.
As money dries up, researchers are taking their work — and its economic benefits — elsewhere, Casey warned.
Medical research funding enjoys broad bipartisan support and could be the catalyst for otherwise entrenched members of Congress to come together, he said.
“Disease and trauma doesn't land on just one party or one people. It visits all of us and all of our families,” said Casey, whose late father, Robert, survived a double transplant at 61 in Pittsburgh during his tenure as Pennsylvania governor. “My father's life was saved in this city.”
Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Steelers could fill needs with free agents while not spending big bucks
- Steelers to release LaMarr Woodley; Taylor restructures contract
- Crosby lifts Penguins over Capitals in last game of road trip
- Stage volunteer dies following collapse at Pine-Richland High School
- Top pitching prospect Taillon’s time with Pirates must wait a bit
- Penguins notebook: Heralded Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov debuts with Capitals
- Marcellus shale driller Noble Energy Inc. sinks roots into Pittsburgh
- Fear of building collapse closes Tarentum road
- Hempfield couple charged in thefts
- ‘Fresher, different, lot more fun’ guide changes at Kings Family Restaurants
- Job cuts at AGH part of ‘strategic’ process