At an impressive ceremony in the White House on October 17,
President Clinton honored the 1995 National Medal of Science and
the National Medal of Technology recipients. During this hour long
ceremony in the East Room, the President outlined his reactions to
proposed congressional cuts in science and technology funding.
Among those eight (physics-related) winners receiving the National
Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor, were: Hans
Dehmelt, University of Washington; Peter Goldreich, California
Institute of Technology; Hermann Haus, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology; and Isabella Karle, Naval Research Laboratory. A team
consisting of Praveen Chaudhari, Jerome Cuomo, and Richard Gambino
(currently or formerly associated with IBM) received a National
Medal of Technology for their development of a new class of
materials, in addition to other individuals and research teams
receiving this award.
In his twelve-minute remarks before presenting the Medals, Clinton
touched on these and other matters:
"In honoring these pioneers, we must ask and answer a fundamental
question: At the edge of the 21st century, how will we ensure that
America remains the strongest nation in the world? How can we pass
on to every child the American Dream of opportunity?"
"The private businesses represented here today will always be the
most important investors in research and development. But
throughout our history, we have recognized that government, working
in partnership with the private sector, does have a critical role
"The defense and space programs help make America the world's
leader in aircraft, aerospace and electronics...."
"Today global competition and rapid change have made technology
clearly more central to our future than ever before. And because
it is so often difficult for individual firms to reap the benefits
of discovery and innovation, the public sector must continue to
play a role."
"Throughout our history, at least throughout modern history when
we've been clearly aware of these scientific matters, this future
and this kind of policy has been broadly supported by members of
both parties. It has been part of our national common ground; a
part of our sense of who we are, what our security requires, and
what will bring us the best future. Today that commitment is at
risk over the great debate over balancing the federal budget.
"I have proposed a balanced budget plan that sustains our
investment in scientific endeavors, in technology, in research and
development. The plan now being considered by the Congress will
cut vital research and development by a third, and any number of
other related endeavors by that much or more. We could have a
balanced budget to show for it tomorrow, but a decade or a
generation from now our nation will much the poorer for doing that.
"At a time of real and crushing budget pressures, the Congress
deserves credit for its commitment to balance the budget and slow
the rate of growth of medical inflation. But it is tempting to cut
other things without considering what the consequences are,
including investments in science and technology which may not have
the biggest lobby here in Washington.
"The future, it is often said, has no constituency. But the truth
is, we must all be the constituency of the future.... And we must
resist these drastic cuts, for constant churning innovation is the
key to economic growth and national strength in the 21st century."
"It is a very good thing to balance the budget if we do it in a way
that is consistent with our values and our clear long-term goals of
strengthening our economy, growing our middle class, shrinking our
under class, keeping America the world's greatest home for
entrepreneurs. If it's consistent with our values and our economic
interests, that's what we ought to do. We can't do that if we
destroy the public responsibility in these critical areas."
"I do believe that the 21st century can be a golden age for all
Americans and that we can help to lead the world to a new era of
freedom and peace and prosperity -- if we make the right decisions
in this critical time of change."