GOP Proposes More Science Cuts

By Chris Mooney | February 10, 2011 9:49 am

I thought, after President Obama’s State of the Union address, that at least we could all probably agree that advancing scientific research (and thus, economic growth) was a good thing. But now we see what the House Appropriations Committee has in mind when it comes to cutting $ 35 billion from the budget–and that includes a lot of whacks at scientific research programs that are at the center of the innovation agenda. Reports Portfolio:

Republicans propose cutting $1.1 billion from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. The plan calls for a $1 billion budget cut at the National Institutes of Health, the federal government’s medical research agency. The Centers for Disease Control would see its funding drop by $755 million. Agricultural research would be cut by $246 million.

The spending plan, which will go to the House floor for a vote next week, also calls for eliminating $1 billion in funding for high-speed rail projects, a program that Obama wants to spend $53 billion on over the next six years. Amtrak would face a $224 million budget cut.

Among the other cuts:

* The Department of Energy’s loan-guarantee program, which supports loans for clean-energy projects, would be reduced by $1.4 billion.
* Spending on other energy efficiency and renewable energy programs would be cut by nearly $900 million.
* The Environmental Protection Agency would have $1.6 billion less to spend, making it harder for the agency to proceed with regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

Honestly, the last cut is the only one that at least makes some sense from the point of view of a Republican who wants to stimulate the economy. They think GHG regulations will kill growth and jobs. I think they’re wrong–but at least there’s an argument there.

What on earth is the economic argument for cutting any of this other research?


Comments (9)

  1. 1. Its done by the FEDERAL government, as opposed to state governments or universities. You have to remember that, besides suddenly becoming fiscal conservatives and deficit hawks, many of these folks actually believe this sort of thing is not the federal government’s job.

    2. These cuts will increase economic activity by putting these $40 Billion back into the the economy. How that happens is something of a black box mystery, since $40 Billion in cuts against a $1.3 Trillion deficit is like fixing the Titanic with a Hello Kitty band-aid.

    3. If clean energy and energy efficiency are good ideas economically – and Republicans don’t agree with that either – then they should arise from market forces, not through government incentives.

    Got any other questions I can answer?

  2. Mike H

    Additionaly these “cuts” are simply reductions in what the president has requested so the money hasnt even been spent yet. You should look into these things a bit more closely instead of taking a CAP press release at face value.

    But I gotta tell you, I am PUMPED about the PBS cuts!

  3. Jon

    I think it was James Fallows who said that there were political gains from cutting green energy off at the knees, since it will be the most visible legacy of the Obama administration. It’s a way of going after the “brand” of Obama’s politics. A green energy that is publicly visible for decades will be a sign of success, which is not acceptable to the GOP (which is still trying to erase the success of social security from the public mind).

  4. A green energy that is publicly visible for decades will be a sign of success, which is not acceptable to the GOP (which is still trying to erase the success of social security from the public mind).

    They haven’t done really well with that, have they? Seems history has a lesson there, but you have to divorce yourself from ideology to understand it.

  5. Dave

    We need to cut science and research so we can help build an ark in Kentucky.

  6. ThomasL


    Federal and state cuts are just starting. The real question is not if we are going to default as a country, but rather which type of default we are going to pull this time (as a country and per state, and not in the far distant future, but most likely within the few years…):

    For current state issues you might want to consider this one:, and keep in mind if the Fed does eventually come to the direct aid of states you’ve opened Pandora’s box and our system will be forced to morph into something very different than the one we know as any semblance of “Republic” would at that point be squashed (Yes, one might have had to study Government to understand just how seriously destabilizing such a move would be…). While such a transition may be better or worse in the long run, in the more immediate time frame it will simply be painful for everyone living through it and there are simply no guarantees about how such things play out once they start…

    As for what all the governments are adamantly working to avoid, well, such should be obvious, and I’ve tried to point it out in here before, but I’ll let Marc Faber do it this time: “We have a big debate in the world whether we will have a deflationary collapse or an inflationary boom…usually after a period of very heavy money printing war follows.”

    Unfortunately, the world we live in is substantially interconnected and all the above will interact with Science in many profound ways, just one of which is what and how much will be funded…

  7. Brian Too

    You know, I totally get that the debt/deficit has to be fixed. That’s a good policy point.

    However the problem is large in the US and that means the measures have to be substantial. I say, you’ve made it a top level national priority, put everything on the table. All of it, including the sacred cows. You can at least create something like a national consensus and reduce national division by sharing the pain.

    How many people think that any positive platform like this is in the cards? Instead, how many people think that the GOP will foster division by selectively going after programs they don’t like and stopping funding there by 100%?

    How many people think that there will be collateral damage? A bunch of programs that are uncontroversial, successful, and generally good value for the money? And some will be reduced below a critical funding level, sufficient that the whole program will become unsuccessful?

  8. Eric the Leaf

    To understand the limits to debt (personal, corporate, financial, and governmental), the economic/political philosophies vying for ascension, and the interplay between the economy, energy, and the environment, I recommend the first three chapters (so far available on-line) of Richard Heinberg’s forthcoming book, tentatively titled “The End of Growth.”

    Also fascinating in my opinion is the new video series from The Nation, entitled ‘Peak Oil and a Changing Climate.” The following videos are currently on-line:

    “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate: an Introduction,” featuring Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss, and Richard Heinberg:

    Richard Heinberg, “The Globe’s Limitations: How Peak Oil Threatens Economic Growth”

    Nicole Foss, “We Need Freedom of Action to Confront Peak Oil”

    Dmitry Orlov, “Peak Oil Lessons from the Soviet Union”

    Noam Chomsky, “How Climate Change Became a “Liberal Hoax'”

    Upcoming video presentations in the series by: Bill McKibben, Greg Palast, Thom Hartmann, Jean Laherrere, Mike Ruppert, Lester Brown.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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