By Nadine Lymn, ESA director of public affairs
Yesterday’s second town hall meeting of the Non Defense Discretionary (NDD) coalition, drew an audience of 400 and featured two representatives from the Obama Adminstration. Jon Carson, who does public outreach for the White House and Robert Gordon, Acting Deputy Director of the White Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The two reviewed the Administration’s position on the upcoming fiscal cliff. Many in Washington, DC refer to the pending expiration of the 2001 Bush tax cuts plus the planned federal budget cuts as the “fiscal cliff” and unless Congress takes action, it will occur on January 1, 2013.
Carson’s overall message to the assembled group was to encourage them to continue to demonstrate the value of federal programs and their connection to local communities across the country.
Gordon noted that the upcoming OMB transparency report related to the budget sequestration and scheduled to be released still this week, would be an enormous but not surprising document; it will not “change the fact that cuts will threaten national security and critical investments here at home.”
Some in the large audience–which included represenatives from the public health, education, environmental and science communities, asked that the Obama Administration encourage federal agencies to supply more information about how they would be affected by the pending cuts.
When asked if the President would veto a bill that would delay the sequester, Gordon declared that he would.
While there are many scenarious, no one knows how Congress and the Administration will ultimately deal with the national debt crisis. All everyone seems to agree on is that it will not be dealt with until after the General Election.
As anyone following the news is well aware, the two parties have been in gridlock and have starkly different visions of the best way to address the nation’s debt crisis. The NDD Coalition continues to push for a “balanced” approach that would avoid further cuts to NDD programs, which have already taken large cuts; NDD funding is at historically low levels not seen since the 1950s.
Yet even so, word on Capitol Hill is that Members of Congress and their staff continue to hear from the Defense community and from constituents encouraging them to continue to slash NDD programs. They are still not hearing much from those of us in the NDD community.
A few weeks ago, the Ecological Society of America, the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the American Mathematical Society teamed up to craft an action alert to our respective members, urging them to make their voices heard to their congressional representatives. To date, only about 1300 letters have been sent.
If you haven’t taken the 5 minutes needed to take this action, we encourage you to do so. Click here to go to the AIBS Legislative Action page where you’ll find more information on the fiscal cliff and budget sequestration and the letter to modify as you wish and send to your delegation.