Obama Announces Members of His Science and Technology Team

On Decmeber 20, President Elect Barack Obama announced the four members of his Science and Technology Team.  These four individuals will guide Mr. Obama on all matters regarding science and technology.

These members include:

Dr. John Holdren who will serve as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  He is a professor and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center.

Dr. Holdren has received numerous honors and awards for his work on climate and enerhy and has been one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change.

Dr. Holdren will also serve as a Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology – or PCAST – as will Dr. Harold Varmus and Dr. Eric Lander.

Dr. Varmus won a Nobel Prize in 1989 for his research on the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes.

Dr. Eric Lander is the Founding Director of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard and was one of the driving forces behind mapping the human genome – one of the greatest scientific achievements in history.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco has will serve as the Administrator of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is devoted to conserving marine and coastal resources and monitoring the Earth’s weather.

New York: We’re gonna tax the fun out of you!

Governor Patterson proposed nearly 90 new fees Tuesday in an attempt to close a 15.4 billion dollar budget gap.

“We’re going to have to take some extreme measures,” Paterson said Tuesday after unveiling his fun dampering new budget.

The proposal, which still needs legislative approval, did not include broad-based income tax increases, but relied on smaller ones to raise $4.1 billion from cash-strapped New Yorkers.

Movie tickets, taxi rides, soda, beer, wine, cigars and massages would be taxed under Paterson’s proposal. It also extends sales taxes to cable and satellite TV services and removes the tax exemption for clothes costing less than $110.

“You’re sending notice to the people of New York that we really don’t want you here,” Long said. “The governor proposed flat spending, but why not actually cut the budget before raising taxes and fees?”

For example, some of the items the state is considering raising fees and taxes on include:

  • An “iPod tax” that charges state and local sales tax for “digitally delivered entertainment services” – in other words, that new Beyonce song you download.
  • State sales tax at movie theaters, sporting events, taxis, buses, limousines and cable and satellite TV and radio.
  • Costlier driving with the repeal of the 8-cents-per-gallon sales tax cap on motor and diesel motor fuel, plus and increase in the auto rental tax.
  • Tuition increases at SUNY and CUNY, $620 and $600 a year respectively.
  • A 50 cent tax on cigars. The current tax is equal to 37% of the wholesale price, or 34 cents a cigar.
  • No more sales tax break on clothes and shoes worth $110 or less, except during two weeks a year.
  • Higher taxes on wine, beer and flavored malt beverages. He would also impose an 18% tax on non-nutritional drinks like soda.
  • The rich would pay more for luxury items through an additional 5% tax imposed on cars costing more than $60,000, aircraft costing more than $500,000, yachts costing at least $200,000 and jewelry and furs costing in excess of $20,000.
  • In addition, a host of a fees, including those related to motor vehicle licensing and registration, parks and auto insurance, would go up, as would various state-imposed fines.
  • A 3.3%, or $698 million, reduction in school aid.
  • $3.5 billion in health care savings, including reductions in payments to hospitals and nursing homes.
  • Video slot machines at Belmont Park, more multistate lottery games and expanded hours for the state’s Quick Draw lottery game.
  • Layoffs for 521 state workers and the elimination of seven state agencies.

“We will be fighting this tooth and nail. We think it is irresponsible to make this level of cuts and not ask the wealthiest New Yorkers to help ease the pain,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who supports a so-called millionaire tax, has said he’d “rather have a broad-based tax than nickel-and-dime” people.

Still, Silver (D-Manhattan) Tuesday indicated major cuts are in store. “Everything the governor has proposed is on the table,” he said.

Republican lawmakers expressed concern with the tax and fee increases.

“Instead of raising taxes, we need to be reducing them,” said Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady).

Paterson did not rule out income tax increases but said spending reductions are the priority. He also defended the fee and sales tax increases, saying they would be less harmful to the state’s economy.

“If you start taxing at times when [revenues are] receding, you’ll drive job creators out of the state,” Paterson said.


A poll on windyharbor.com indicated that  33% of readers would feel the most strain with the raise in college tuition costs.

I agree.