Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck United States Politics Science

Science Programs Hit Hard By Proposed Budget 395

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody-invent-a-science-gun dept.
BJ_Covert_Action writes "The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has released a list of proposed spending cuts for the US Federal Government. The proposed cuts include reductions in spending on many science organizations and funds such as NASA, NOAA, nuclear energy research, fossil fuel energy research, clean coal research, the CDC, the NIH, and numerous EPA programs. There are also quite a few cuts proposed on domestic services, such as Americorps and high speed rail research. The House Appropriations Chairman, Hal Rogers, acknowledges that the cuts go deep, and would hurt every district across the country. But they are still deemed necessary to rein in Congressional spending. Notoriously absent from the proposed budget cuts are two of the largest spending sinks in the federal budget: the Department of Defense and Social Security."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Science Programs Hit Hard By Proposed Budget

Comments Filter:
  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday February 11, 2011 @05:46PM (#35180614)

    The DoD is the sacred cow to end all sacred cows, the only way it's ever going to get budget cut is if there is nothing else left to cut.

    • The DoD is the sacred cow to end all sacred cows

      Well, at least to the party that has a majority in the House of Representatives.

      OTOH, since the U.S. government has neither a unicameral legislature nor parliamentary soveriegnty, but instead has a bicameral legislature and legislative/executive power separation with an executive veto on legislation, a simple majority in one house of the legislature just gives you a certain degree of negotiating power, not the power to dictate policy.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        "OTOH, since the U.S. government has neither a unicameral legislature nor parliamentary soveriegnty, but instead has a bicameral legislature and legislative/executive power separation with an executive veto on legislation, a simple majority in one house of the legislature just gives you a certain degree of negotiating power, not the power to dictate policy."

        Please correct me if I'm wrong, but..doesn't the house have a bit MORE power when it comes to the budget...aren't they the ones that actually FUND prog

        • by eln (21727)
          All revenue-related bills (funding or de-funding) must originate in the House, but they still have to pass the Senate and the President to take effect. The House cannot unilaterally enact a funding measure, nor can it unilaterally cut funding. If, however, a previous bill has been passed to enact some sort of program, but that bill didn't include any sort of provisions to fund the program, the House could refuse to pass a bill funding that program, effectively killing it all by themselves since the Senate
        • Please correct me if I'm wrong, but..doesn't the house have a bit MORE power when it comes to the budget...

          When it comes to taxation, the House has a special procedural role (any revenue-raising bills must originate in the House; Art. I, Sec. 7 of the Constitution), but they don't have any more substantive power even there, since the bill still has to pass a majority vote of both houses and not be vetoed, or have a veto overridden by a 2/3 majority of both houses.

          When it comes to spending, the House doesn't even have that special procedural role.

    • by cje (33931) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:28PM (#35181174) Homepage

      Part of the problem is that anybody who proposes DoD cuts is immediately labeled a dangerous agitator who wants to embolden our enemies and put American lives at risk. There's a large and well-funded industry that's dedicated to perpetuating this myth, and they're frighteningly effective at their job. If we're to ever get the deficit situation under control, it will require a certain degree of maturity from the electorate -- along with the realization that there's enough pork in the defense budget to make a bacon replica of the Hoover Dam.

      We also need a certain degree of maturity and a solidly-grounded perspective on taxes, as well -- but that's neither here nor there.

    • by Solandri (704621) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:43PM (#35181362)
      Actually, Defense spending is one of the few pieces of government spending which has been trending downward [cbo.gov]. It picked up again after 9/11, but is still near historical lows. The outrage over the amount of military spending made sense back in the 1960s - if we were at Vietnam War-era spending levels today, the Defense budget would be around $1.2 trillion instead of only $660 billion. Our modern levels of defense spending are only slightly above the world's average if you factor in Japan's GDP (we are obligated by the peace treaty ending WWII to provide for Japan's national defense - a treaty I agree is long overdue for renegotiation). People keep dragging it up sometimes not adjusting for inflation, and sometimes adjusting for inflation but not for economic and population growth. If you compare defense spending as a percentage of GDP, it was on a clear downward trend prior to 9/11 unlike just about every other part of the budget.

      It's the social programs (primarily Medicare/Medicaid) which are ballooning out of control [cbo.gov] and busting the budget. Those are the sacred cows we need to sacrifice (or at least pass some common sense reforms) if we want to get the budget under control.

      And another stat I'm sure will throw people here for a loop. It was actually George W. Bush who increased non-DoD science spending the most [aaas.org] of modern Presidents (though merely restoring it to 1980s levels as % of GDP).
      • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday February 11, 2011 @07:16PM (#35181704)
        I wish your post was true, but unfortunately it's only a half-truth. The institutional spending done by the DoD may be trending downward, but the operational spending done by the DoD is astronomical. The war on two fronts is not included in the DoD budget, nor are the long-term expenses such as the debt that the war accrued and the expenses relating to war casualties.
  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Friday February 11, 2011 @05:48PM (#35180638)

    Defense spending will not be cut because it's *one of the few legitimate and constitutionally required functions of government*. And political suicide.

          Social security will not be cut because it would be political suicide. Instead, they will keep collecting for it, using the money for something else, and go bankrupt sometime in the not-to-distant future.

    • Defense spending will not be cut because it's *one of the few legitimate and constitutionally required functions of government*.

      Surely you don't think our legislature let's that kind of stuff influence what they vote for.

    • by Arterion (941661)

      I'd eagerly go vote for someone who was willing to cut spending on defense, and I know a lot of people who agree with that sentiment. We spend way too much on it.

      Unfortunately, the cuts would probably trickle down to hurt the lowliest people involved, probably "the troops", though it really needn't. I'm sure there's a lot of fat that could be cut out of the defense budget.

      • Unfortunately, the cuts would probably trickle down to hurt the lowliest people involved, probably "the troops", though it really needn't. I'm sure there's a lot of fat that could be cut out of the defense budget.

        Yeah, like stuff the 'fiscal conservatives' insist on spending even when the Pentagon hasn't requested it.

        The problem is that all the politicians want money spent in their own district, whether it's an Air Force base or a company that makes widgets for some kind of weapon system.

        So yeah, the troops are the ones who get screwed. They're just ordinary folk, and don't merit the consideration of our corporate-owned Congress.

      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:19PM (#35181044) Homepage Journal

        "Unfortunately, the cuts would probably trickle down to hurt the lowliest people involved, probably "the troops", though it really needn't. I'm sure there's a lot of fat that could be cut out of the defense budget."

        Well, we could start by closing the majority of our bases around the world. I mean, do we really need such a presence in Europe? I'm not seriously worried about the Germans taking over again, nor of the Soviet Union crossing through Berlin.

        Heck..we could still keep military superiority...but quit trying to defend the rest of the free world.

        Hmm...hell, one of the reasons so many of the countries in the EU can have all that 'free healthcare' and other entitlements, is because they don't have to pay much for their military defense...the US does.

        We should pull out of all those countries...and let them worry about defending themselves. I'm not just picking on Europe...but pretty much all of our bases that really aren't that strategic to the US.

        I'd think that would take a healthy chunk out of defense spending?

        • by Johnny5000 (451029) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:27PM (#35181162) Homepage Journal

          Hmm...hell, one of the reasons so many of the countries in the EU can have all that 'free healthcare' and other entitlements, is because they don't have to pay much for their military defense...the US does.

          That may be part of it, but the US still pays vast amounts of money for health care... it's just going to the insurance companies via premiums instead of the government via taxes.

          • by cayenne8 (626475)

            "That may be part of it, but the US still pays vast amounts of money for health care... it's just going to the insurance companies via premiums instead of the government via taxes."

            I don't understand this statement that the US still pays vast amounts of money for health care. The US federal govt hasn't ever paid shit for my health care. I pay the premiums...etc, and have been VERY satisfied by my coverage. Both while W2 employed...and when contracting and paying on my own (I LOVED stuffing a HSA with pre-t

            • Now..obamacare is gonna fsck that up..it is already hitting...and I forsee in next years, I'll be paying more and getting much less.

              That's because that "liberal" bill had as much (or more) benefits for the insurance companies as it does for public, and didn't close a lot of loopholes that the companies are using to avoid the obligations while jacking up their rates.

              The single most useful thing the Congress could do for US insurance rates (and thus indirectly for the public health) is to revoke the health insurance industry's exemption to antitrust laws. If they were competing rather than colluding, everyone (except their executives and

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          I highly doubt that without our bases the Germans would feel the need to build up a huge military. What are they afraid the French and the Poles would come after them?

          War in Europe is not likely in the near future. We would need to keep at least one as a staging/refueling/medical area if we are to continue our wars in the mideast. Leaving only Ramstein AFB should be fine, and would indeed cut a lot of useless spending.

          If we could stop our obsession with bombing poor brown people we could even close that one

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            But cutting military spending is only one part.

            We ALSO have to cut/reform Social Security and the Medicare/Medicaid fiasco.

            Those are the other big gorillas in the room....and we can't get outta debt and on track unless we cut those back to reality too.

            We can't afford the obamacare thing either...repeal that and replace it with real reform....they could start with letting medical insurance be sold across state lines for real competition.....works well for auto insurance...

      • by Americano (920576)

        I'm sure there's a lot of fat that could be cut out of the defense budget.

        Such as? Which specific programs and expenditures that should be eliminated? It's real easy to go "Holy shit, we spend a lot on the DoD," much less clear what programs are specifically unnecessary and should be ended.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by retchdog (1319261)

      constitutionality has jack-all to do with defense spending not being cut... simply imagine: if, for some reason, our current military were unconstitutional, do you really think anyone in power would give a damn?

    • by Herkum01 (592704)

      It is not political suicide but inertia. The general public would rather cut the defense budget than Social Security(SS), but all the talk is how much SS is going to be cut. The general public would rather increase taxes for wealthier Americans, instead they game them a big cut.

      We have elected people who cannot actually fix any problems, just point fingers at this or that because they are believe themselves infallible because they got elected.

    • Defense spending will not be cut because it's *one of the few legitimate and constitutionally required functions of government*.

      There are many legitimate functions of government, but "defense spending" in general does not all go to Constitutionally-required functions. There aren't many Constitutionally required functions of government. Some of it goes to the Constitutionally-required function to protect the states within the U.S. from invasion, but most defense spending is used for functions which have, at best, a distant and speculative relation to that Constitutionally-required function.

    • by DeadCatX2 (950953)

      Constant war is a constitutionally required function of the government? Perhaps the "Department of Defense" would be more aptly named the "Department of Foreign Military Intervention."

      I also didn't know that warrantless surveillance by the NSA was a constitutionally required function of government; quite the contrary, such warrantless surveillance ought to be illegal due to the Fourth Amendment.

      • Constant war is a constitutionally required function of the government?

        Yes, its in Amendment MCMLXXXIV.

  • Hey Congress! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Friday February 11, 2011 @05:48PM (#35180640) Journal
    To paraphrase, "If you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance!"
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      If you think a recession sucks, try a depression!

      Let me tell you a parable. I have had pay cuts three years in a row now, but I managed to hang onto my job. My wife was not so lucky, has been out of work for a year.

      I need to do a rather large capital outlay -- a roof on the house -- but I don't have the cash, and even if I could get the loan, it would be irresponsible to go deeper in debt right now, with my job in question and my wife out of work. Dig? As soon as things turn around, I'll be happy t

      • by haruchai (17472)

        When there's so much wasteful spending, why focus on cutting something that may actually pay off, even if not immediately. Roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy, start closing military bases and end the war(s). Start closing the feeding troughs for corn farmers and oil companies.
        That will free up one hell of a lot of cash. Just half the money spent or slated to be spent in the Middle East wars would have fully funded every major
        worthwhile ( and even some harebrained ) infrastructure project in the US. And

      • Re:Hey Congress! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by magsol (1406749) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:40PM (#35181324) Journal
        That's not a bad argument, but I have to point out what I perceive to be a poor analogy: you're absolutely correct regarding your roofing that, while it's definitely straddling the border between "useful" and "really really useful", it's not nearly as "critical" as, say, mortgage and food. However, the roofing is completely independent from your stream of income; having your current roof vs redoing the roof will not alter your pay grade one cent. On the other hand, investing in these scientific programs could (and probably will) stimulate the economy in a feed-forward loop of its own. The only issue with that plan is that this science/education funding is one of the longest-term goals out there: we probably wouldn't see the benefits of it for at least a decade or two, if not more. But by laying the groundwork now, we'd be much more prepared to make the big breakthroughs when our technology is ready. The roofing is just that, and nothing more. Investment in these long-term goals yield far more than just their up-front cost.
  • by Tekfactory (937086) on Friday February 11, 2011 @05:51PM (#35180676) Homepage

    Defense and security: In 2010, some 20 percent of the budget, or $715 billion, will pay for defense and security-related international activities. The bulk of the spending in this category reflects the underlying costs of the Department of Defense and other security-related activities. The total also includes the cost of supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is expected to total $172 billion in 2010.

    Social Security: Another 20 percent of the budget, or $708 billion, will pay for Social Security, which provided retirement benefits averaging $1,117 per month to 36 million retired workers (and their eligible dependents) in December 2009. Social Security also provided survivors’ benefits to 6.4 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers and disability benefits to 9.7 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents in December 2009.

    Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP: Three health insurance programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — will together account for 21 percent of the budget in 2010, or $753 billion. Nearly two-thirds of this amount, or $468 billion, will go to Medicare, which provides health coverage to around 46 million people who are over the age of 65 or have disabilities. The remainder of this category funds Medicaid and CHIP, which in a typical month in 2010 will provide health care or long-term care to about 64 million low-income children, parents, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Both Medicaid and CHIP require matching payments from the states.

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258 [cbpp.org]

    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday February 11, 2011 @05:56PM (#35180730)

      Social Security: Another 20 percent of the budget

      Much as the politicians would have you think so, Social Security isn't part of "the budget". It's a separate revenue stream.

      Look at the numbers on your check stub sometimes. That's whey they call it "entitlement" - you're entitled to get yours back.

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        Yeah but it doesn't stop them from raiding it for funds from time to time.
      • by lgw (121541) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:21PM (#35181080) Journal

        That's the sales pitch friend. That's not the reality - if you're young you're never getting that money back (and chances are you don't expect to). The SS system is and was designed to be a direct transfer of income from the young to the old. Not in and of itself a terrible idea, but due to changes in life expectancy and demographics it just doesn't work any more. We need to change to a program that does.

        Look at the budget in terms of revenue (where 100 is total federal revenue):

        100 - Money given to the old and poor (SS, medi*, federal pensions, welfare)
        30 - defense
        10 - income on the debt
        20 - everything else

        We need to cut spending across the board by almost half to get to where we're repaying the debt. Everthing has to be cut, and cut by nearly half. Cutting science and other useful programs is barely going to make an impact, but it's a needed prerequisite to cutting retirement programs. People aren't going to accept that they aren't going to get their "entitlement" before it's clear that everyone everywhere is sharing the pain, with no exemptions or sacred cows.

        But there's no other option. We're spending 160% of what we take in, and that's just insane.

        • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday February 11, 2011 @07:00PM (#35181556)

          When you talk about sharing the pain, realize that part of the reason for that large deficit is the rate of taxation as a percentage of GDP is at historic lows.

          Simply reverting that rate to historical averages would cut the deficit in half. In fact increasing the US tax rate to what Canadians pay would wipe out the deficit completely.

          Ultimately the resolution for this is going to require both reductions in benefits as well as increases in taxes.

          Anything else would not represent in sharing the pain equitably.

          • by lgw (121541)

            realize that part of the reason for that large deficit is the rate of taxation as a percentage of GDP is at historic lows

            The rate of federal revenue is at about 19% of GDP, and tends to stay there regardless of where the marginal income/corporate tax rates are set. There's a nice graph here about 20% of the way down the page. Changing marginal tax rates on high earners, for example, is a feel-good measure that doesn't actually raise any more money (because people change their behavior in respone to tax rates, and often simply work less when the rewards are less). I've seen a nice graph of the wild swings in tax rates again

      • Much as the politicians would have you think so, Social Security isn't part of "the budget". It's a separate revenue stream.

        Look at the numbers on your check stub sometimes. That's whey they call it "entitlement" - you're entitled to get yours back.

        There is no entitlement to Social Security or "to get yours back". See: US Supreme Court case Flemming v. Nestor (1960).

        Regardless of how it is sold to the masses, if you strip away the political theater and posturing your Social Security payments are essentially a welfare tax that can be redistributed as the government sees fit at any particular time. The government has no obligation pay a person Social Security no matter how much they have paid in.

      • by Scareduck (177470)

        Much as the politicians would have you think so, Social Security isn't part of "the budget". It's a separate revenue stream.

        This is what the Social Security Administration [ssa.gov] has to say about it:

        However, those involved in budget matters often produce two sets of numbers, one without Social Security included in the budget totals and one with Social Security included. Thus, Social Security is still frequently treated as though it were part of the unified federal budget even though, technically, it no longer is.

    • When you include non-DoD defense spending the total amount spent on defense far outstrips any anything else for 2010.
      I think these guys do a good job of showing where the money goes on a macro level without losing too much detail. http://www.wallstats.com/blog/death-and-taxes-2010-released/ [wallstats.com]
    • by Arcaeris (311424)

      Holy crap. I didn't realize the numbers were so bad.

      Think about that. Almost 1 in 6 Americans is over 65 or disabled, receiving medicare. 1 in 5 is getting low-income assistance medicaid or disability.

      Put those together and put it another way, for every 3 Americans, only 2 of those are working and have non-government healthcare. If those 110 million people don't contribute, 2 people are paying for the healtcare of every 3rd person. Holy crap, that is a lot of money.

      I'm a liberal myself and don't mind helpin

  • it is the spirit which makes successful science and applications!

    money may simply be an indicator that new things are welcome -

    but it is not the media good science grows on.

    -

    the best fertilizing media for science is the readiness to accept surprising results when they are beinf presented and proofed!

    • by Albanach (527650) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:04PM (#35180854) Homepage

      but it is not the media good science grows on.

      Yes, when those post-docs lose their research funding they'll just keep researching in their garage at their own expense. There they will join the mass ranks of other volunteer scientists making new and groundbreaking discoveries every day.

      We're talking about cutting well over $5 billion from science spending. Anyone that wants to pretend that won't destroy much of 'the media good science grows on' is delusional.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday February 11, 2011 @06:04PM (#35180850)

    Some of that is obviously ideological (EPA, Clean *, etc.), but the rest is just stupid.

    In addition to the long-term hazards of cutting back science (and education), austerity programs are exactly what government's *shouldnt* do when the economy sags. Every dollar they cut from a program is a dollar someone isn't going to be spending next year, so tax revenues will drop even further.

    A government with any sense would establish a sustainable cost of operations, borrow money when times are bad, and pay off the loans when times are good.

    Unfortunately, a republic (representative democracy) tends to become a 'politicianocracy', and politicians buy votes by spending money on stuff their supporters want. So nobody wants to pay down debt when times are good; they just want to take the opportunity to spend more.

  • a lot of other things are going to be on the "chopping block" so to speak as this depression unwinds.

    Now that the bankers have stolen everything and are using the money to jack up prices and accumulate limitless power and wealth by toppling governments, expect lots of things to be on the chopping block.

    It will sweep the globe, and many of the elite and puppet governments will fall.

    Then you can start to worry about WW III because when people have empty bellies, things get nasty.

    All for a bunch of bankers.

    Wha

  • Speaking as a civil servant, I've seen this before. Politicians don't like cutting. They REALLY don't like cutting things that actually matter.

    They're not serious about balancing the budget. They never are. Being serious about it means that you have to go after the big ticket items. Unfortunately the big ticket items are also popular, and that makes it hard to do politically. It doesn't help that your average voter is a moron who doesn't understand anything that takes longer then ten seconds to explain.

    So,

  • Let's cut the budget in anything that sets up a definite investment, and make sure we keep blowing money on weapons and a deparmtent of defense to make sure no one can invade the burned out wasteland left after the GOP wins in 2012.

    For my part, I'll be investing overseas - maybe if I make enough money I can corrupt their government into forgetting to educate their citizenry too!
    Remember, whoever gives heavy metal poisoning to their children last, wins!!!

    Pug

  • That may be the only thing on the list that I don't disagree with cutting. We won't end up implementing high speed rail in this country any time soon, and in another hundred years after our country falls apart, rebuilds, and then realizes the value of high speed rail, we can just as well borrow the plans of a better organized and managed country. And maybe if we're really on the ball then, we'll borrow their health care system, too.
  • You look at the bills, you look at laws, you look at the decisions.

    It is obvious that most of congress has very little to no understanding of science

    If they think that scientific theory and hypotheses are just guesses, why should they fund it?

    Especially the ones that believe that evolution doesn't exist and that intelligent design is either science or the equivalent of science.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday February 11, 2011 @11:18PM (#35183254) Homepage Journal

    Social Security spending is big because it's the retirement programme for everyone in our entire big country. It pays for itself. It doesn't contribute to any deficit or debt - to the contrary, Social Security is the largest lender to our debt, which is driven by war spending (that never dips, even in "peacetime").

    Social Security doesn't need any changes to accommodate retiring Baby Boomers - it was already tweaked to collect enough for them, starting back in the 1980s. There is no projected problems with Social Security until at earliest 2039, which is a lot longer than any other programme. And if we want to fix that, all we have to do is collect Social Security payments on income above $105K, which limit currently makes Social Security a regressive tax.

    None of the lies they're telling you to cheat you of your guaranteed retirement plan are true. They're preying on the post-Boomer generations' innuendo that "we'll never get Social Security", because they've been trying to steal it from you your whole life. Don't let them. Make them cut the $TRILLIONS in "defense" and "intelligence" budgets that are mostly waste, corruption and investments in war instead of peace and growth.

If a listener nods his head when you're explaining your program, wake him up.

Working...