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AWIS in Action! Advocacy and Public Policy Newsletter December 2012
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AWIS In Action!

 Advocacy & Public Policy Newsletter   ~   December 2012
In This Issue
 
AWIS CALL TO ACTION!
 
All I want for Christmas is a fiscal deal to avoid sequestration!
 
At the moment, the situation is looking bleak and there are only 11 more days. Discussions appear to have broken down between the President and Speaker Boehner. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released guidelines for federal agencies to prepare for going over the fiscal cliff. While it is not unreasonable to be skeptical of political theatrics, this was the last thing the administration wanted to have to do unless they were genuinely worried they would fail to reach a consensus before the clock strikes 12.
 
Boehner’s Plan B, which failed last night, sounds quite a bit like the Ryan Budget, meaning Defense would be spared hard cuts and the burden would be shifted further to non-defense discretionary funds (NDD), from which the money for research comes. Some opposed it because it was too harsh, others because it included tax increases for those making more than $1 million.  NDD has already taken a huge cut of $1.5 trillion this year alone. We cannot cut our way to fiscal health, a stable economy, or a globally competitive nation.  More importantly, both sides need to stay at the table until a bipartisan solution is reached.
 
We cannot convey the seriousness of this more emphatically. Sequestration will mean
• cuts of $2.5 billion for National Institutes of Health (NIH)
• $469 million hacked from the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget
• Department of Energy DOE R&D slashed by $400 million
• $417 million slashed from NASA’s research budget
• $257 million chopped from NOAA
• $58 million from the USDA’s Research and Education budget
This list is by no means comprehensive and we are getting dangerously close to the point of no return.
 
That means training grants, research grants, grants for people currently in training who dream of being an academic scientist someday. However, if 2,300 grants are cut from the NIH and 35,000 jobs lost that will be many dreams deferred.
 
It may be the holidays, but you can, you must, take 5 minutes out of your schedule to do one or more of the following:
• EMAIL your members of Congress, say 3 things
   o Who you are
   o What you work on and why it’s important
   o Why you don’t want to see funding cut and that we need a balanced approach of both responsible cuts and increased revenue
• TWITTER your members who have handles, lists for House and Senate, tell them #NoMoreCuts!
• CALL your members of Congress
• SIGN ON LETTER for grad students
• REACH OUT TO THESE KEY MEMBERS
   o House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
   o Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
   o House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.)
   o House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.)
   o Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
 
Need more talking points?
Need more direction
 
We have continued to work with our coalitions to engage various groups of our membership with sign on letters, Twitter campaigns targeting members of Congress using the #NoMoreCuts hashtag, encouraging phone calls and letters to your congressional representatives, and a survey for grad students and postdocs from one of our partners examining the outlook and plans of current scientists.
 
Negotiations are continuing today, though Speaker Boehner declared the House won't be back until after Christmas. Additionally, many in the Senate will be heading to Hawaii this weekend for the funeral of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and resume their duties next Thursday. Now is the time for action, before they collectively resume discussions.
 
Congress has its highest approval rating of the year, currently 14%. That’s not something I would want to brag to my family about over the holidays if I were them. One would think that listening to what the constituency which elected you wants is worth taking into consideration.  
 
 
M3 The Maddening Monthly Mention
 
* TIME's Not On Our Side *
 
The old adage says that behind every successful man is a woman (or surprised wife or mother-in-law). As President Barack Obama has won TIME’s "Person of the Year”, again, it’s worth mentioning that no woman has won individually since Corazon Aquino, the first woman president of the Philippines, in 1986. Looking at previous "Person of the Year” winners, which started in 1927, there are a whole lot of presidents, and not a single first lady. I find that both surprising--our nation has had some pretty heavyweight first ladies in terms of influence--and also kind of frustrating.
 
A few women made the shortlist, and there are credible arguments for each of them. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who stood up to the Taliban for her right to an education, is an awe-inspiring figure and currently somewhat of a poster child for the international women’s rights movement. Marissa Meyer, the computer scientist turned CEO, broke a serious glass ceiling this year, taking over Yahoo! while pregnant and generating some serious discussion about work life balance and the changing trends in American society. Speaking of former first ladies, Hillary Clinton’s star is a bit dimmer at the moment due to the Benghazi business, but she has been doing an admirable job balancing our Middle East interests during their upheaval for several years now as well as advancing women’s right’s internationally.
 
Nobody has seriously mentioned Michelle Obama. I suggest her, for apolitical reasons, because not only has she played a big role in the President’s success, but she is an incredible role model in her own right. She’s been an important part of the administration since he took office, but her campaign to fight childhood obesity, Let’s Move, is clever and, for the first year in decades, the tide is apparently starting to turn. Currently escalating health costs and a lack of personal culpability for the decisions made by individuals regarding their welfare are part of what are driving us to a financial breaking point. Teaching kids the value of eating well and getting exercise, with the aim of helping to establish a lifelong commitment to sensible decision making, couldn’t be more important.
 
So, TIME, next time you’re making these decisions, how about a little thought towards mixing it up? Nearly 90% of the people who voted on TIME’s website think Malala should have been "Person of the Year”. Just because women aren’t always the ones shouting the loudest doesn’t mean they aren’t creating or impacting the most significant of change.
 
In This Issue
  

 

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