Can conservatives support federal research budgets even in tough budgetary times? (For example, advanced energy research.)

Here’s President Reagan delivering a national address in 1988 (emphasis added):

“Federal funding for science is in jeopardy because of budget constraints. That’s why it’s my duty as President to draw its importance to your attention and that of Congress.

…The remarkable thing is that although basic research does not begin with a particular practical goal, when you look at the results over the years, it ends up being one of the most practical things government does… Major industries, including television, communications, and computer industries, couldn’t be where they are today without developments that began with this basic research.

…one thing is certain: If we don’t explore, others will, and we’ll fall behind. This is why I’ve urged Congress to devote more money to research. After taking out inflation, today’s government research expenditures are 58 percent greater than the expenditures of a decade ago. It is an indispensable investment in America’s future.

Some say that we can’t afford it, that we’re too strapped for cash. Well, leadership means making hard choices, even in an election year. We’ve put our research budget under a microscope and looked for quality and cost effectiveness. We’ve put together the best program for the taxpayers’ dollars. After all, the American tradition of hope is one we can’t afford to forget.”

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