"Beyond Frugality": Senate Panel Cuts NSF Budget by $162 Million

By Veronique Greenwood | September 15, 2011 1:17 pm

Yesterday, the Senate subcommittee that funds the NSF, NASA, and research agencies in the Department of Commerce announced that they could see no way out of startlingly drastic budget cuts.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which develops and curates technical standards for science and industry, will see a 10% drop in its budget, and the National Science Foundation, responsible for 20% of the basic research funding in the nation, will lose $162 million, or 2.4% of its budget. Under the plan, which passed 15-1 in the subcommittee, other programs will be wiped completely, like the Technology Innovation Program, which funds high-risk, high-reward research. “We’ve gone beyond frugality and are into austerity. … We didn’t want to do this, but that’s the way the world is,” said an unhappy Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) (via ScienceNOW), who has frequently gone to bat for science funding and heads the subcommittee. Today, the whole Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on the plan—for more news as it develops, head over to Science NOW.

[Disclosure: DISCOVER Magazine is a media partner of the NSF, helping produce public-science programs like Changing Planet.]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Technology
  • http://jonfwilkins.blogspot.com Jon Wilkins

    Just to help put that in perspective, based on a 2007 analysis, $162 million translated into Iraq War dollars comes out to 5 hours and 24 minutes.

    http://jonfwilkins.blogspot.com/2011/09/senate-cuts-5-hours-24-minutes-from-nsf.html

  • Jeff

    Jon, I think at this point everyone gets that Iraq has been expensive. I think at this point, everyone is looking for a quick way out.

    The politically motivated dialogue that goes on so much doesn’t help to make that happen. We have to make cuts somewhere, and honestly a 2.4% cut isn’t apocalyptic.

  • Andrew

    It certainly isn’t apocalyptic, but there’s no reason to avoid pointing out the amount of money spent fighting and the amount of money spent researching and improving standards of living. Why should they not be equal?

  • Phil Warnell

    I’m afraid they can justify this as citing that science is a matter of national disinterest.

  • Chrysoprace

    America, where we can’t afford education, infrastructure, research, or healthcare, but we sure can blow stuff up good! And we can keep troops in places like Japan and Guam where they are sorely needed to do… presumably important stuff. And when China, Brazil, and even freaking Finland overtake us economically we can always start a new “war on bankrucy” wich will certainly be as effective as the wars on drugs, poverty and terror have been. Moving away from America was the best choice I ever made, now my taxes pay for roads, schools and healthcare instead of missiles, soldiers and tanks. I love Japan.

  • William

    What happened to us getting out of all of the current wars? Research is the backbone of all progress. We need to be looking at the furture and research is that furture. I say give more to the research and remove all funding for the wars.

  • Cathy

    What bothers me is that the funding went directly and indirectly to American jobs. Grants from the NSF go to research institutions, who are able to employ researchers and professors, who are able to hire assistants and a whole slew of support jobs, as well as the effect trickling down into the greater community.

  • Jeff

    My point is simply that we HAVE to make some very big cuts to spending to try and balance our national budget and… GOD FORBID!… start to reduce the national debt.

    Revenue increase (taxing is never popular) and spending cuts are the only way to do this. Pretty much the options are social programs, defense budget, and education/research initiatives. Making sweeping cuts to the defense budget while commited to a war isn’t viable(there will be cuts, but hopefully not where they will directly cost lives).

  • http://fredcobio.wordpress.com Jim H

    NIH, NIST, NSF are NOT necessary governmental expenses. They just bumped the NIH budget at the other’s expense. The NIH, the Palatial Palace in Bethesda, needs to be curtailed as the poster child of out -of-control Government spending.

  • http://discovermagazine.com Iain

    Cut one Pentagon weapons project instead.

  • Barry Johnstone.

    So the sciences have to have financial cuts. I now wonder if the American military machine has similar cuts – or won’t that be considered!

  • Jason

    @ Jeff (2):
    “Jon, I think at this point everyone gets that Iraq has been expensive. I think at this point, everyone is looking for a quick way out.”

    Oh really? That’s why the mainstream Republican candidates have learned their lesson and no longer advocate starting unnecessary wars with other countries in the middle east, and are looking to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as possible, right? Oh wai-

    @Jeff (2): “The politically motivated dialogue that goes on so much doesn’t help to make that happen. We have to make cuts somewhere, and honestly a 2.4% cut isn’t apocalyptic.”

    Actually, I think that dialogue DOES help. It’s important people realize how bloated the military budgets are so that they know that there are other places to make cuts apart from the science budgets. What ACTUALLY doesn’t help is telling people to stop discussing the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, so that fewer people understand the situation, and no action is taken to remedy the situation – all while the stupid politicians move to cut NASA funding.

    @ Jeff (8): “Making sweeping cuts to the defense budget while commited to a war isn’t viable(there will be cuts, but hopefully not where they will directly cost lives).”

    None of the military budget cuts will cost lives if we are no longer at war when people make those cuts (hint, hint…).

    I would also dispute that many of the military budget cuts will cost lives since many weapons programs have no application to the conflicts we are engaged in. How many air-conflicts have we gotten into with the Taliban that made use of those new F-22s?

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