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January 30, 2007

Science funding

Since most of my intellectual activities depend, in some way, on the generosity of the American people (via taxes) and the political will of politicians, I can't help but follow the problems of funding for science. For those of you not nearly as obsessed with the relationship between science and our society, let me catch you up on the recent political turmoil. President Bush announced the "American Competitiveness Initiative" in his State of the Union 2006 address, which proposed to substantially increase federal funding of science (via agencies like NSF, NIST and the DOE). But, as is usually the case with such programs, there was always the question of whether real money would follow the promise. Then, when funding for FY2007 started getting tight, Congress froze almost all government agencies' funding at their FY2006 levels, which basically killed the idea of increasing funding for science. But, in a recent turn-about (largely the result of Democrats' actions), Congress passed a "continuing resolution" that would exempt the main basic-science agencies from the freeze. From the Computing Research (CRA) Policy Blog:

Science was one of just a few priorities protected by Congressional Democrats in the bill -- it joins federal highway programs, veteran's health care, the FBI and local law enforcement, and Pell grant funding.

The result is that the basic-science agencies will see a slight increase in funding, although not quite what the President's initiative promised. Good news for science, and good news for society. Why the latter? Because this kind of investment is what makes our country special, and thus worth defending, in the first place.

(Tip to Lance Fortnow.)

posted January 30, 2007 08:01 PM in Political Wonk | permalink