08/18/2013 10:21 am ET Updated Aug 19, 2013

George Will: 'Recent Government Behavior Has Damaged The Cause Of Basic Science'

Conservative columnist George Will criticized the government on Friday for its actions on sequestration, specifically the "public health hazard" that the NIH is grappling with.

"Unfortunately, recent government behavior has damaged the cause of basic science, " wrote Will in his Washington Post column. "It has blurred the distinction between fundamental research and technical refinements (often of 19th-century technologies — faster trains, better batteries, longer-lasting light bulbs)."

Last week, HuffPost's Sam Stein dove into the repercussions that sequestration is having on science. University of Kansas Vice Chancellor For Research Steven Warren told Stein the cuts were like "a slowly growing cancer" that is "going to do a lot of destruction over time."

More from Stein's Wednesday piece:

If sequestration is a cancerous tumor inside the world of science, how far has it spread?

In 2013 alone, NIH, the primary federal spigot for projects impacting human health, will be forced to cut $1.7 billion from its budget. Government agencies across the board are making similar reductions in their research budgets as well. The length of some grants have been shortened, while others have decreased in size and still others have been eliminated altogether. Though they aren't supposed to do so, university officials have begun siphoning money from funded projects to those feeling the pinch, in hopes that if they hang on long enough, help will eventually come.

Back in March, Will had a radio interview with Laura Ingraham, where he accused Obama of using "scare tactics" to make sequestration cuts disruptive. In an April piece, HuffPost's Howard Fineman called Will "wrong" for that move, arguing that the onus was on Congress.

"If you read the relevant laws and the sober-minded technical analyses, you know that it is Congress, starting in 1985, that spelled out the straitjacketed process that the president and his administration have no choice but to follow now," Fineman wrote.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Will's column was from Sunday, Aug. 18. It was published on Friday, Aug. 16.



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