The Republican War on Research Continues

If you’ve read Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science, it will come as no surprise that Republicans in Congress are trying to stifle and defund government efforts at objective research.  From Moshe Marvit:

Just before the November election, news leaked that the Congressional Research Service had been strongarmed by Senate Republicans into withdrawing a report that analyzed the last six decades of economic data and found, contrary to deeply held Republican dogma, that there was no correlation between top marginal tax rates and economic growth. Six weeks later, after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, we were reminded that 15 years ago the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied to kill all federal funding of gun research, leaving the public without solid information with which to debate gun control.

Now, as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has begun calling for an end to federal funding for social science research, Paul Krugman has labeled the modern GOP “the ignorance caucus.”

“These days [Cantor's] party dislikes the whole idea of applying critical thinking and evidence to policy questions,” writes Krugman, who identifies an epistomelogical divide between the parties: “One side believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs.”

There’s an old line that facts have a liberal bias.  So Republicans have decided to declare war on facts.

There’s a deeper problem here, of course.  By depriving government agencies and government itself of research, Republicans are crippling the ability of government to make and implement good policy.  Research showing no correlation between top marginal tax rates and economic growth strikes at Republican dogma.  It also has the power to reshape public debate on the issue.  It makes it harder for both sides to make good policy.  It turns government into nothing more than a faith-based enterprise.  It’s appalling.  And it hurts us in both the short and long term.

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