As an educator and a scientist, I know that investing in education, research, and infrastructure are the keys to a stronger, more secure middle class. These are the investments that kept the American Dream alive in the 20th century – investments such as the GI Bill, which made it possible for a young Frank Lautenberg to go to college, build a business, and join the United States Senate.
But the American Dream, and Sen. Lautenberg’s vision for our country, are under attack in Washington today. They are threatened by a worldview that gives ever-greater privilege to the already fortunate: a dogma that demands lower taxes on the wealthy and fewer protections for consumers while letting Wall Street, Big Oil, and insurance companies run free.
In my 14 years in the U.S. Congress, I have fought back against this destructive ideology and built a record of accomplishment on issues that matter to New Jerseyans. As your United States senator, I will work to recommit our nation to these progressive values and to make the investments needed to keep the American Dream alive in the 21st century.
When America invests in science and technology, the payoffs are extraordinary. One study of the Apollo program, for instance, found that it transformed $25 billion in government investments into $181 billion of economic output – a 7 to 1 return on investment! A study of the Human Genome Project found that $3.6 billion in federal support enabled nearly $800 billion in economic output.
Yet despite these enormous payoffs, the federal government has slashed its investments in R&D in recent decades. In 1964, as America’s space program was taking off, federal investments in research and development reached a peak of nearly 2 percent of our economy. Today, we’re investing far less than one percent. As a scientist, I’ve seen firsthand how these cuts have hurt promising research and hobbled America in the race for discovery.
President Obama has said that we are facing a “Sputnik moment” – an occasion when, in order to remain a global leader, America must invest heavily in breakthrough research. Yet how can we hope to replicate the successes of the Apollo years if we fail to make Apollo-scale investments?
In the Senate, I’ll push to restore federal support for R&D to its historic levels to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and spark revolutions in biomedicine, information technology, renewable energy, our energy infrastructure, and more.
I voted for the largest middle class tax cut in history and wrote a law in 2008 that provided property tax relief to homeowners who do not itemize on their taxes. I also steadfastly opposed extending the Bush tax cuts, which worsened inequality by giving hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest families while doing little to help the middle class.
The theory of trickle-down economics was disproven long ago. It doesn’t work, and I will fight against those who try to reinstate it as government policy.