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article imageOp-Ed: Grant to study sea anemones' venom survives sequester

By Larry Clifton     Mar 12, 2013 in Politics
Washington - Some in government would have us believe the White House cannot find 2.5 percent in budget cuts in order to follow its own sequester guidelines.
Perhaps the National Science Foundation (NSF) would be just the place to start.
Currently, the NSF is attempting to justify spending $450,000 that it awarded to Ohio State University to study the “evolution of venom proteins in sea anemones.”
In a March 3, memo, NSF stated that the grant was part of its “core mission.”
Core mission? Really? This is another example why NSF is so well known as a government-waste sector.
The memo bragged that funding for the foundation would be reduced five-percent under the Obama sequester , out of a request of $7.373 billion for fiscal year 2013 - up $340 million from its fiscal-year 2012 request. It is unclear how the increase amounts to a five-percent reduction.
While NSF math may seem fuzzy to ordinary taxpayers, NSF spokeswoman Dana Topousis attempted to explain it in the memo.
“We receive more than 50,000 proposals per year, and fund about 11,000 of those,” said Topousis, adding that 1,000 less grants will be awarded in 2013.
However, Topousis seems to be counting federal grants, as opposed to total taxpayer dollars that her organization has requested – an odd accounting technique that just might explain a few things about Washington’s deficit spending.
It seems according to Topousis’ logic that since NSF requested $340 million in additional grant money over last year but then granted the increased sum of grant money to fewer groups, the $340 million increase is actually a revenue reduction.
Try using that math when balancing your bank accounts.
Meanwhile, the White House is running around squawking about cuts in the sequester it created and signed into law, while Sen. Harry Reid, leader of the U.S. Senate, hasn’t even proposed a budget in five years - even though the deficit has increased by about $6 trillion over that time.
While I’m not questioning the compelling if somewhat abstract need to understand how venom mediates interactions between sea anemones and the rest of their communities, and how it defends them from predators, helps them gain prey, and how this entire process in turn supports symbioses, it’s at the bottom of the A-list in terms of budget priorities.
It’s time for the White House to stow its venom to form a more symbiotic relationship with the congressional community so it can in turn decrease the increase in our deficit, sea anemones and their communities notwithstanding.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about National Science Foundation, sequester cuts, obama white house, Congress, Harry reid
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