Phi Beta Cons

The Logic of Lobbying

Okay, some high-level university research officials went to Congress to pitch for more funding for basic research. Thus the headline in the Washington Post higher education blog: “Universities fear the federal research pipeline is withering.” (A bit of a mixed metaphor, but we all do it, I suppose.)

Then the author, Nick Anderson, provided inflation-adjusted figures for basic research for the years 2005 to 2015. The numbers go from $13.9 billion in 2005 to $16.3 billion in 2015.

So, with an increase in real terms of 17.2 percent, universities are worried about the “withering” of basic research funds?

Yes, and here’s why. Thanks to misguided federal “stimulus” money, there was a surge in basic research funding in 2010, to $18.2 billion.  From now on that will be the standard against which potential recipients will measure future funding.

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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