Like the tide and mountain winds, inflation is erosive, wearing away at the purchasing power of federal spending. Just as small investments grow to substantial sums over many years through the power of compounding interest, the inverse is true as well: compounded annual inflation devalues real purchasing power over time. The longer the time period, the more significant the reduction in purchasing power. The compounding effect of inflation is important to federal efforts that have as their goal the doubling of certain spending in nominal dollars. In 2006, President George W. Bush initiated an effort to double federal funding for physical sciences and engineering research. This effort was driven in part by concerns about U.S. competitiveness and its implications for U.S. economic growth, job creation, national security, and other national interests. It was also driven by a perception that the federal government had underinvested in these fields for some time. The five-year doubling of the National Institutes of Health budget (which comprises the majority of federal life sciences research funding) between FY1998 and FY2003 magnified this perception.
Date of Report: 4/21/2015
Order Number: IN10260
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