Administration's budget hard on science

The New York Times assigned approximately a dozen reporters to read the Administration’s proposed 2021 budget, so I do not have to read it. As the Times notes, ultimately the Congress decides on a budget, but “the document provides a window into the White House’s spending priorities.” These priorities include restricting immigration and building a wall along the southern border, and developing new state-of-the-art weapons. They further include reductions to Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance, disability insurance, student loan programs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, and more. The Washington Post has a nice graph showing proposed changes by department, from a 37% cut to the Commerce Department to a 12% increase in NASA.

David Malakoff and Geoffrey Mervis write in Science magazine that

federal spending on research would drop by 9%, or $13.78 billion, to $142.185 billion. The government’s investment in scientific infrastructure—large facilities and special equipment—would plunge by 40%, to $3.6 billion. Spending on basic research would fall by 6%, or $2.822 billion, to $40.638 billion.

Here, according to Messrs. Malakoff and Mervis, is a “rundown” of the hits to the science portions of each agency’s budget:

  • National Institutes of Health: a cut of 7%, or $2.942 billion, to $36.965 billion
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): a cut of 6%, or $424 million, to $6.328 billion
  • Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science: a cut of 17%, or $1.164 billion, to $5.760 billion
  • NASA science: a cut of 11%, or $758 million, to $6.261 billion
  • DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy: a cut of 173%, which would not only eliminate the $425 million agency, but also force it to return $311 million to the U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Research Service: a cut of 12%, or $190 million, to $1.435 billion
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology: a cut of 19%, or $154 million, to $653 million
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: a cut of 31%, or $300 million, to $678 million
  • Environmental Protection Agency science and technology: a cut of 37%, or $174 million, to $318 million
  • Department of Homeland Security science and technology: a cut of 15%, or $65 million, to $357 million
  • U.S. Geological Survey: a cut of 30%, or $200 million, to $460 million

The cut to ARPA-E baffles me, because it is in excess of 100%; I guess that unless they have a large carryover they will have to auction off some reactors or something. Parochially, I noticed that NIST and NOAA, which have significant presences in Boulder, where I live, are slated for significant cuts. The Science authors note a bright spot: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture is expected to grow by 11%, or $95 million; much of that money goes to academic research. The budget also seeks increases in research on artificial intelligence and quantum information science. Though the NASA science budget is cut, the Post reports that the overall NASA budget is increased by 12%, largely to further the plan to send astronauts back to the moon. The Energy Department’s budget eliminates research on alternate-technology vehicles and invests in “coal-based products and technologies,” while casting aspersions on “burdensome energy efficiency regulations,” again according to the Post.

All in all, not the budget I would have drafted.