Funding for Science from the 112th Congress

  1. D H

    Staff: Mentor

    This bill by Sen. Rand Paul, http://www.randpaul2010.com/2011/01/senator-paul-introduces-500-billion-in-spending-cuts/ (links to the bill itself and a summary are in the linked page), is almost surely DOA, but it does reflect some of the thinking in the new 112th Congress. The outlook for funding for science & technology is a bit grim. Just some of the cuts proposed by Paul:

    NASA: 25%
    CDC: 28%
    EPA: 29%
    USGS: 29%
    NOAA: 36%
    NIH: 37%
    NSF: 62%
    DOE: 100%

    SO NASA gets off easy with a mere 25% cut here.

    Rand's rationale for many of these cuts are IMHO incredibly naive and laughable. Laughing is not the right response, though. I'm more than a bit worried that a reduced version of these draconian proposals will become law.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. lisab

    Staff: Mentor

    It seems those who most fervently believe in American Exceptionalism don't recognize what it takes to become exceptional. Do they look around and think everything that makes America what it is today has all just been a gift from God?

    Past generations had a commitment to investing in America - in the form of infrastructure (requires taxes), education (requires taxes), and R&D (requires taxes). If it takes an all-out fight to even fund the basics today, where will be be 25 years from now?
     
  4. Mech_Engineer

    Mech_Engineer 2,299
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Rand Paul wants to cut 100% of the Department of Energy budget? As in dissolve the entire department?
     
  5. Well, that's quite a shock. DOE funds quite a bit of fundamental research, some of which cannot be done anywhere else in the world (yet). If PF members look upon these proposals as realistic (do you ?), I guess many physicists should seriously consider relocation. I am already, and these news are useful to make one's mind.
     
  6. mheslep

    mheslep 3,531
    Gold Member

    Replying to appeals to emotion with more of the same: Continuing with business as usual is naive and, given the immediate examples of other countries (cf. Greece), laughable. Burdening the citizens of the US with increased debt at the rate of $1.5 trillion per year is draconian.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  7. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    People voted for this guy?

    :bugeye:

    Anyway, his suggestions are all here, unfortunately no studies, no rationalization, no information, no sense.

    http://www.randpaul2010.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Overview-500-billion-cuts-2.pdf
     
  8. mheslep

    mheslep 3,531
    Gold Member

    It certainly is not the federal government that makes the US exceptional.
     
  9. mheslep

    mheslep 3,531
    Gold Member

    Yes, 755,061 Kentuckians did, an 8% win. I just wish my state could rent the guy out as our Senator for a while.
     
  10. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Kentucky, that would explain a lot. Whatever he gets paid, he needs to be run out of office and we can save the money. Then hopefully someone with a brain might get elected.

    This guy isn't just a sandwich short of a picnic, he's missing the entire basket.
     
  11. cristo

    cristo 8,412
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Reading through his proposals, his main "idea" seems to be that government shouldn't pay for anything, and that most things should be left up to private companies to deal with. Well, of course, I could cut a budget easily: just declare that most issues are not the government's problem, and be done with it*.

    * Actually, I shouldn't jest too much, since that's not too far from my PM's ideas
     
  12. mheslep

    mheslep 3,531
    Gold Member

    Heh, after last nights speech I was thinking similarly about Obama.
     
  13. We are all very enthusiastic about your personal opinions, however maybe you will post those relevant to the discussion only ?
     
  14. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Let's be sure to stick to Rand's proposals and what they would do to the country, to science, and to R&D to solve the serious problems we are faced with.
     
  15. The complete shut down of DOE would not only impact this country. Beyond the US, there are tens of thousands (yes, really) of world top scientists devoting most of their time to working with some national lab(s) under the DOE.

    The biggest catastrophe in the history of high energy physics in the US was the cancellation of the SSC. In terms of bare money, we are contemplating almost a factor 4 impact just counting DOE. In terms of world impact to high energy physics, the cancellation of the SSC would be dwarfed. To my understanding, independently of my personal involvement, it is almost the worst time to make such a move.
     
  16. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Nor should you be so dismissive one of the fundamental concepts behind the creation of Western society! His "idea" (you put it in quotes to be dismissive) is a big part of the basis for capitalism and democracy! ....or an idea that even if you dislike must be weighed thoughtfully against the reality of runaway debt. People don't like seeing cuts to things they have a vested interest in, but that's life! We're in debt and our income isn't going to catch up with our spending for a while, so cuts need to be made. The alternative - the current course of action - is to allow our debt to swamp the economy.

    Now I'm not saying I agree with everything he proposes (heck, I'm not even clear that I get all of it). But hard choices need to be made and that means everything needs to be on the table. Next-up, the National Endowment for the Arts...
     
  17. I do not agree, but I will stick to the mentor recommendation right before your post. Shall we ?
     
  18. Borg

    Borg 1,265
    Gold Member

    Education: 83%

    I lived in KY for 6 years. I'm glad to be free.
     
  19. mheslep

    mheslep 3,531
    Gold Member

    The valid case to make for the citizens that must pay the bills and at risk for having their savings inflated away by money printing and deficit spending is not that government jobs will be lost, but in the scientific value that comes out of these labs, as compared to the Universities, industry R&D (cf. Bell Labs), etc.
     
  20. Industry doesn't do much fundamental R&D anymore, the focus has shifted much more to applied research. See,for instance, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_36/b4145036681619.htm

    Also, the DOE, NSF, etc fund University research, and part of grants to Universities end up in operating budgets. These cuts would not just effect science research, but would have a huge impact on university education.

    Finally, we could have a discussion of the timing of these cuts- we might be out of the recession, but unemployment is still high. Meanwhile, companies are sitting on record amounts of cash rather than hiring, or expanding (Apple for instance is sitting on upwards of 50 billion http://technog33k.com/post/2822018582/apple-sitting-on-a-cool-59-7-billion-cash and has been for nearly a year). Is it really the best time to put a lot more highly skilled on the job market? Keynes wasn't a complete idiot.

    Edit: Also, dare I say it, maybe the more responsible thing to do would be to raise revenue? Maybe increase taxes?
     
  21. Vanadium 50

    Vanadium 50 18,050
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    No problem. The 2009 revenue from income tax was $915B. The deficit for 2011 is expected to be $1.5T. So all you need to do to balance the budget is to increase income taxes by a factor of 2.6. So, if you're in the 25% bracket, that would put you in the 66% bracket.

    Still think it's a good idea?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?