Harvard Steps up Its Lobbying Efforts to Combat Federal Cuts

For the last six months, Harvard has been the outsider inside the Beltway.

Since the Republican sweep of both houses of Congress November 8, Harvard has seen its relative influence in Washington, D.C. decline.

The University, according to many Washington observers, was associated with the policies of the Democratic Party, a party which many said was decisively repudiated in last year's midterm elections.

And thus Harvard has taken a beating from the right-wing, the media and the political pundits in the nation's capital.

"Harvard is absolutely out-of-touch," said Herb B. Berkowitz, vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think-tank, "They're out-of-touch with ordinary people who get up in the morning at 5 a.m. and work long hours in order to put food on the table. Harvard is an elitist institution."

The University was so ostracized after last years' election, Newsweek magazine even said that in the nation's capital, Harvard is "out," and House Speaker Newt Gingrich's West Georgia College is "in."

And the Republicans were quick to express their displeasure with things associated with Harvard by deciding in the weeks following their dramatic victor to skip the Kennedy school's traditional bi-annual orientation program for new members of Congress.

After spurning the Kennedy School, the Republicans turned their attention to pass a balanced budget in the first 100 days of the new congress, a measure which contains plans to cut drastically federal student financial aid and federal grants for civilian scientific research--money which Harvard and other Massachusetts universities desperately rely on.

In response to the Republican's Contract with America, specifically its proposals to cut federal money to the University, Harvard has in recent months stepped up its lobbying efforts in the nation's capital.

"This is the most critical moment in federal funding of higher education since the Second World War," said Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine.

But with the current mind-set of many Republicans in Washington, the University's efforts could be in vain and many say that Harvard will have to get used to its declining influence inside the Beltway.

And for the University that means policy advice will probably be coming from places like Berkowitz's Heritage Foundation and that student-related fiscal issues will be at the top of discretionary money cut from the federal budget.

"Academia in the 104th Congress has lost much of its traditional influence and that is to be expected from the Change in the House leadership," said John Keast, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss), the president of the first-term Republican caucus.

Bypassing the Kennedy School

After the majority of the 73 newly-elected Republican representatives decided to attend the Heritage Foundation's orientation for congressional newcomers in Baltimore in December, officials at the Kennedy School canceled last year's session of the biennial orientation program for the first time since 1972.

We've always tried hard to have a balanced, non-partisan orientation program, and the Republicans may not have wanted that at that moment," said Steven R. Singer, a spokesperson at the Kennedy school. "The Republican leadership wanted a different kind of orientation, a specifically conservative orientation."

For many years, however, Republicans have said that the Kennedy School orientation program was for liberal Democrats only.

"I overheard conversations between Republican members who had attended the Harvard orientation, and they said they were disgusted by what they heard in a political sense," Berkowitz said. "They were hearing people tell them how to perpetuate a system that they thought was corrupt."

Keast said that Wicker decided to skip the Kennedy School's orientation program because of the traditional "liberal bias" present there.

"The Heritage program in Baltimore was just more compelling and interesting to Rep. Wicker," said Keast.

Berkowitz added that since Harvard has held its orientation program, public opinion of Congress has plummeted.

"Harvard has been tutoring incoming freshman members for 22 years and the performance of these members by acclamation, I mean everyone agrees, has been going from bad to worse, " Berkowitz said. "We didn't need any more training on how to make the country's affairs worse."

Instead of six days in Cambridge attending policy panels and lectures, the majority of the newly-elected Republican representatives spent three days in Baltimore listening to such prominent conservatives as Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition and radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.

The Republicans' decision in November left the future of the Kennedy School orientation program in doubt.

Kennedy School officials said that if an orientation is held next year, it could be radically different from past orientations.

"We will work with the Republicans. Whether it takes the exact same form as the previous ones is still being debated," Singer said.

Despite the criticism from the republican congressional majority. Officials at the Kennedy School say they will not change their curriculum.

"an examination of our curriculum is based on the substantive needs of the students here, and not based on the political winds in Washington," Singer said.

"What we teach [at the Kennedy School] is not designed to be influenced by what happens in Washington," said roger B. Porter, IBM professor of business and government at the Kennedy School and a top aide to former President bush. "We teach how to be thoughtful and insightful policy makers, and that applies to both Democrats and Republicans."

Rising Role of think Tanks

In attending the Heritage Foundation's orientation, the Republicans sent a clear message that advice and information would be coming from think tank instead of from more traditional places, like universities.

"The process has been on-going...There has been a shift away from universities to more all-purpose think tank s, which are a source of fresh thinking on public policy issues," Berkowitz said.

Even the respected magazine The Economist noted this shift from universities to think-tanks in its 1993 year-end issue.

The Economist observed this shift on both sides of the Atlantic in the past decade.

"Governments in search of advice looked to think-tank such as the Institute of Economic Affairs in Britain and the Heritage Foundation in the United States, rather than to Oxford or Harvard," The Economist wrote.

Keast said that conservatives like Wicker are using think tanks for advice, because universities are still perceived as the 'last bastions of liberal thought."

"And with this [liberal] perception and the change to a more conservative leadership, it is not a hard jump to say that the new leadership is going to look elsewhere for expert testimony and for policy analysis," Keast said.

However, Singer maintains that Harvard professors, no matter what their political affiliation, will still be asked by congressional members for advice.

"We enjoy contact with both sides of the aisle on a lot of issues," Singer said. "The professors here are respected for their expertise, and their expertise wills till be needed regardless of the political context in which the issue is being debated in."

And Harvard's Vice-President for Government, Community and Public Affairs James H. Rowe III '73, who coordinates Harvard's lobbying efforts, said that the University has gotten along quite well with the new Republican leadership.

"I don't think there is an institutional problem of any kind relating to Harvard and the Republican Congress," Rowe said. "There are extensive calls back and forth from faculty here to elected officials in Washington."

But former U.S. Sen. Jim Sasser, a spring fellow at the Institute of Politics, said that universities have already acknowledged that they are not being consulted as often as they once were and have taken measures that they hope will renew their relevance on Capitol Hill.

"Universities are rushing out to retain what they perceive to be conservative professors in the effort to diffuse the accusation that they are one-sided and liberal," Sasser said.

Although Sasser would not say if he meant Harvard, the University in April did offer a position in the government department to controversial conservative political columnist George F. Will.

Will will be a visiting lecturer in the department in the fall and will teach a course titled "Liberalism and conservatism in American Politics" with Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield Jr. '53 and Professor of Government Michael J. Sandel.

However, Rowe insisted that university appointments are still based on intellectual achievements rather than political affiliation.

"What every university wants to do is get the best people in the field, regardless of the scholar's political affiliation," Rowe said.

Cuts in Aid to Education.

Speaker of the House Gingrich laid the groundwork for the stunning Republican landslide last November with his Contract with America, a list of proposals which would be voted on in the first 100 day should the GOP win control of Congress.

At the top of the Republicans' agenda was a promise to pass a balanced budget and to cut taxes.

But in order to achieve these twin goals, Republicans in both the House and Senate passed a budget blueprint in May which would cut federal aid to college students and slash federal funds for Civilian scientific research.

"If America is to remain competitive in the world, and if Americans are to maintain a decent standard of living, we must get federal spending and the federal budget under control," says a statement released by Gingrich's office. "This means making some tough choices."

At the top of their list, the Republicans would eliminate the in-school interest subsidy on Stafford loans--a measure which would dramatically affect thousands of students at Har- vard and in Massachusetts.

Currently, students who take out Stafford loansare exempt from paying interest on their loansuntil six months after they graduate. If thebudget blueprint is eventually passed, studentswould be forced to pay the interest that accruedwhile they were still in school.

Republicans believe that by eliminating thein-school interest subsidy on Stafford loans, thecountry will save $12.4 billion over five years,according to House Budget Committee spokespersonChris Ullman.

Republicans maintain that for the averagecollege student, the elimination of the subsidywould amount to an extra $21 a month over the lifeof the 10-year loan.

"It is roughly the cost of basic cabletelevision," according to Republicans on the HouseCommittee on Economic and EducationalOpportunities.

But for Massachusetts students, who receivemore than $200 million annually in federalassistance, the Republican proposal would bedisastrous, according to state financial aidofficials.

"The [effect of the proposed cuts] has thepotential to be big," said Harvard's Director ofFinancial Aid James S. Miller. "If all the cuts gothrough, the impact on students would besignificant."

Miller added that if the Republican proposalsare passed, it would hurt about 4,000 Harvardundergraduates.

Since the cuts would affect thousands ofstudents at the University and across the nation,Democrats and Harvard officials are scurrying totry to prevent the cuts from being finalized.

"We ought to be providing for investments inthe nation's future," says U.S. Rep. Joseph P.Kennedy II (D-Mass.) "[Financial and cuts] areunbelievably short-sighted."

"In cutting the deficit, [the Republicans] arebeing penny wise and pound foolish by cutting backon education, which is important in order to movethe United States forward," Sasser said.

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 (D-Mass).has been a leading opponent of the proposed cutsin financial aid and in recent weeks has sharplycriticized the GOP for their plans.

"Senator Kennedy views it as a trade-offbetween education and tax breaks for the nation'swealthiest citizens, and it's a trade-off he isnot willing to support," said an aide to Kennedyon the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.

Miller added, "Sen. Kennedy has been quitewonderful in trying to stem the tide of cutbacksfor federal student financial aid."

But Harvard financial aid officials realizethat they are facing an uphill battle in trying toprevent the passage of cuts in federal financialaid.

"Everyone recognizes that there is a budgetcrunch, but we have to persuade Congress thateducation is important...the pay-off is enormous,"Miller said.

Cuts in Science Research

In their plans for a balanced budget by theyear 2002, Republicans have also proposed cuttingfederal funding for civilian scientific research.

The Republican budget blueprint, according tothe Democrats on the House Committee on Science,would cut spending on civilian science research bya total of $24 billion between the years 1996 and2000.

Under the House Budget Resolution, $7 billionwould be cut over five years from the Departmentof Energy's applied and basic research anddevelopment programs.

Research and development at the EnvironmentalProtection Agency would be cut from $577.1 millionto $490 million under the proposed budget.

The National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration (NASA) will see its budget dropfrom $14 billion to $11.7 million by the year 2000and the National Institutes of Health, thenation's leader in biomedical research, will seeits budget drop from $11.3 billion this year to$10.7 billion in fiscal year 1996.

"The cuts are terrible," said Rick Borchelt,assistant to the director for communications atthe White House Office of Science and technology."The republicans are building up an education anda research deficit that is every bit as heinous asa budget deficit."

At the top of the House Republicans' list is aplan to eliminate three Cabinet departments:Commerce, Education and Energy.

Harvard scientists are most concerned about theelimination of the Department of Energy because itsubsidizes much of the research at the Universityin physics, materials science, environmentalresearch and geoscience.

The Department of Energy's direct spending inMassachusetts totaled $130 million in 1994, $5million of which went to Harvard researchers.

The Department says that the proposed cutswould force it to terminate support for 2,000scientists at universities.

"The [Energy Department] cuts will have afairly significant impact on the performers ofresearch," said Dr. Martha Krebs, director of theOffice of Energy Research at the Department ofEnergy. "The Republicans say they want to supportbasic science, At least in the way they haveallowed the Department of Energy to be cut, theyare hurting basic science big time."

Krebs said that under the budget blueprint, theEnergy Department will be forced to close some ofits research facilities, thus preventing studentsfrom doing their thesis research there.

"We're talking an impact on thousands ofstudents." Krebs said.

Baird Professor of Science and Chair of thePhysics Department Gary J. Feldman. whose work inexperimental particle physics is entirelysupported by the Department of Energy, said hisbudget has been cut by four to six percent in thelast two years, and if the Energy Department iseliminated, he is unsure about where his fundingwill come from.

"Support for science has been decreasing, whichis hurting [my] research efforts," Feldman says."And now, I have no idea where my funding willcome from."

As the cuts become more concrete, many inHarvard's science community are concerned abouttheir research and about the future of science.

"I think everybody is worried," said McKayProfessor of Applied Physics Robert M. Westervelt."We don't know what the final outcome will be, butthe situation does not look very good."

Westervelt added, "We are all very worriedabout how that will affect the training of thenext generation of scientists."

The cuts in federal aid for civilian researchwill also mean fewer research opportunities forgraduate students and post-doctoral students.

"The number of graduate students we admit isbased on the number of them that we can supportand so we will probably limit our graduate studentenrollment accordingly," Feldman said.

Members of the scientific community are alsoworried that fewer people will go into thesciences because they will find that they cannotobtain the appropriate funding for theirprospective research.

"[The cuts] will reduce the ability to turn outexcellent young people and so some of the mostinnovative research will be hurt," said Dean ofthe Division of Applied Sciences Paul C. Martin'51. "It will probably have deleterious effects onmotivating people in the long term in going inthis direction."

"You probably will see people who would havepursued a career in science, not believe they willget the proper funding, and leave the field,"Borchelt said. "This will hurt health care, hurtthe environment and cripple energy research."

However, the republicans maintain that basicresearch will not be touched and that the cuts arenecessary in order to reduce scientificbureaucracy and federal aid to corporations.

"Basic science is a priority in this budget,"says Melissa Sabatine, a spokesperson for theHouse Committee on Science. "We are attempting torestore integrity in science...we have grown awayfrom basic research by subsidizing largecorporations."

The Republicans also maintain that the NationalScience Foundation's budget would increaseslightly under their budget blueprint. TheNational science Foundation supports thousands ofuniversity researchers across the country.

However, even the Foundation realizes thatresearch subsidies to university scientists willdecrease under the Republican plan.

"Given the way the budget process is going, Idon't think you are going to see the level ofscientific money that will flow into universityscience that we have seen in the past," said asource at the Foundation.

And so the Clinton Administration andMassachusetts Democrats are preparing to mountintense lobbying efforts against the cuts.

"It is unbelievably short-sighted to cut outresearch and development in our nation's future,"said Rep. Kennedy. "The key to the nation'sproductivity has always come from our inventors,many of whom have been incubated at universities."

"We are committed to maintaining science andtechnology [funding], but we are in a battle,"said Krebs, a Clinton appointee.

Harvard Prepares to Fight

Harvard is gearing up for an intense lobbyingeffort in order to show its opposition to proposedcuts in financial aid and civilian scienceresearch.

Rudenstine's most recent trip to Washington,D.C. was in April in order to voice his concernabout the Republican proposals at the semiannualmeeting of the Association of American UniversityPresidents.

In Washington, Rudenstine met with U.S. Sen.Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), the chair of the SenateCommerce, Science and Transportation Committee,and with several members of the national media inorder to make the case for continued federalsupport of scientific research.

"The money saved, in the long term, inprevention, is so much greater than the researchcosts," Rudenstine said. "Research is a very goodinvestment in terms of cost-effectiveness."

However, Rowe acknowledged that Harvard's taskwill be difficult because of the widespreadsentiment across the country in favor of abalanced budget.

"[Preserving federal aid] will be a challengefor all sectors, and so universities cannot expectto be immune from political reality," Rowe said.

Rowe added that the higher education fundingcuts will become reality unless Harvard continuesto mobilize an intense campaign against the GOP'sbudget blueprint.

"We must redouble the efforts of our alumni,our faculty and our staff in order to make as gooda pitch as possible that [Harvard] is critical tothe success of America in the 21st century," Rowesaid.U.S. Rep JOSEPH P. KENNEDY II (D-Mass.)