Scan the headlines of any American newspaper and one is likely to find one group dominating them. That group is Congress, who have seen their approval ratings plummet while they battle among themselves trying to determine a way out of the current economic downturn. Many blame Congress for the problem, but they also turn towards the President, who they believe spends money with no regard to the debt or future generations.
It has led the United States into the current sequestration, which has meant across the board cuts that are hitting folks in all walks of life. In the middle of all this, President Obama is getting ready to submit his next fiscal budget plan for approval, something which is liable to be met with considerable consternation. That is because, at a time when they believe the President should be looking to reduce the budget, he is adding new projects on to it.
The latest Obama initiative is one that he hopes will help unlock the mysteries of the human brain. The project, which is called Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, or BRAIN, is one that the President hopes will help the medical profession to combat traumatic brain injuries. Also on the list of targets are ailments like Alzheimer's and epilepsy. The theory is if scientists can unlock the secrets of the brain the country will be helped with a reduction in medical costs, among other things.
The plan seems like an exciting undertaking, but where Congress will likely be unhappy is the overall cost of this plan. President Obama is placing a $100 million dollar price tag on the project. For families and patients of these types of diseases, this might seem a drop in the bucket in terms of the long term plan. Congress does not look at things with long term planning in mind these days. They see a short term outlay of funds for a country in the throws of the largest deficit in its history.
That fact might keep this plan from ever getting off the ground. It does not seem to be deterring the President, who thinks quite highly of the project. He was quoted in a CNN piece as saying, "There is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked, and the BRAIN Initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember. And that knowledge could be - will be - transformative."
This particular plan fits in with something that the President mentioned in his State of the Union address. One of the bigger complaints that Americans have made in recent times is that the country has fallen behind other nations in terms of new technologies. The U.S. imports far more than it exports, lending credence to these claims. Obama believes that the country has to invest in research to be on the cutting edge in various fields. This is one example of what he means. The question is with the current deficit situation, will Congress be able to see down the road, or get caught up in more partisan politics?