In order to get the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” passed quickly the Democratic Senate has reached a compromise with a few Republican Senators cut the amount of stimulus that goes to the Conservative Republican Enemy No. 1: Science.
The proposed compromise includes cuts of $750M from NASA (a 50% reduction), $427M from NOAA (a 34% cut), $100M from the Department of Energy office of science (a 100% cut), and $1.4B from NSF (National Science Foundation), again, a 100% reduction.
These aren’t cuts in these programs budgets, just cuts in the increases to their budgets. So worst case scenario is their budgets stay the same.
However, an important part of the stimulus plan is to try and keep the recovery rolling after the first surge of Federal Money gets consumers to start spending again and that is where science research plays a major role.
For the last 8 years the Conservative Republicans have lead a war on science, slashing research budgets across the board and generally destroying Research and Development in this country. As a result America has stopped being the nation of innovation and become a nation of consumers to the nations like India and China that invest heavily in science.
Investments in science give long-term returns to our nation, in the 40’s through the 60’s we invested heavily in aeronautics and as a result America became the lead in the aeronautics industry and dominated the world in Aircraft production, an edge we are losing to Europe.
In the 60’s through the 90’s we invested heavily in the computer field, making America the leader in Computer Science and making it a large part of the American economy that we are quickly losing to India.
In order for America to remain an economic powerhouse in the world we need to invest now in research into the sciences and technology of the future. The relatively small investments now of $4 billion out of an $800 Billion stimulus package, that goes into finding and supporting the next huge industry, whether it is Green Tech, Hypersonic Transport, Nanotechnology, or something totally unexpected will pay itself back many times in the future.
Unfortunately, on the idea of funding science, something that has shown time and time again as the way to keep our nation economically competitive in the world, the Republicans have drawn a line in the sand and refuse to compromise on the principals that they have adopted during the last eight years: Knowledge is an Enemy and Truth is a Menace.