(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama joked Monday about how the federal government is out of money then later called for increasing funding for science and technology parallel to the space race.
Obama spoke at the 150th Anniversary of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1863 to help develop military technology during the Civil War.
“Part of what has made the academy so effective is that all the scientists elected to your elite ranks are volunteers, which is fortunate because we have no money anyway,” Obama said to laughter from the audience. “For 150 years, it has tried to answer big questions, solve tough problems, not for yourselves, but for the nation.”
Since Obama took office, the national debt has increased by $6 trillion.
Later in the speech, the president stressed the need to maintain funding for science and technology so that the United States remains competitive with the rest of the world.
“Nobody does it better than we do when it’s adequately funded,” Obama said. “What we produce here has benefits worldwide. We should be reaching for a level of public and private research and development investment that we have not seen since the height of the space race. That’s my goal.”
Obama warned that scientific funding was jeopardized by the sequester, the 2.3 percent reduction in the growth of federal spending that took effect on March 1 as a result of Congress and the president being unable to reach a tax and spending deal.
“Right now we are on the brink of scientific breakthroughs to change life for the better, which is why we can’t afford to cut science and technology,” Obama said. “Unfortunately, that’s what we’re facing right now because of the across-the-board cuts that Congress put in place.”