My View: A looming threat to life sciences industry | Letters to the Editor | The Indianapolis Star | IndyStar.com

My View: A looming threat to life sciences industry | Letters to the Editor | The Indianapolis Star | IndyStar.com.

By Charles J. Garcia

As we start to wind down for the holidays, Washington’s work is only beginning. With the election over, it’s up to Congress and the White House to keep the nation from dropping off a fiscal cliff — a combination of severe budget cuts and tax hikes that take effect in 2013.

If they mishandle this historic opportunity, Indiana could find itself in a dire situation. For instance, Congress is considering ending the tax break for research and development in the name of raising revenue. There’s also talk of dramatically altering the successful Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program. Such reforms would stifle Indiana’s life sciences sector. As they hammer out a compromise in coming weeks, lawmakers need to do what is necessary not to disrupt this vital industry.

The R&D tax credit has played a significant role in making America a leader in life sciences innovation since the 1980s. This investment has paid dividends, as the average job in this industry paid $78,600 in 2009, more than 70 percent above the national average, according to a recent study by the Milken Institute. What’s more, while total private-sector employment declined by 2.9 percent between 2001 and 2010, national employment in the bioscience sector grew by 6.4 percent.

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