Advertisement

Will Obama's freeze chill science?

When he addresses the nation tonight (27th January), US President Obama is expected to call for a three-year freeze on federal spending for any programs not dealing with the military or homeland defense. But with the budget boosts for federal science agencies provided by 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act drying up in 2011, science advocates are concerned that Obama's funding freeze may spell the steep budgetary drop-off in the next fiscal year that many dread.Image: US Senate "Certa

By | January 27, 2010

When he addresses the nation tonight (27th January), US President Obama is expected to call for a three-year freeze on federal spending for any programs not dealing with the military or homeland defense. But with the budget boosts for federal science agencies provided by 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act drying up in 2011, science advocates are concerned that Obama's funding freeze may spell the steep budgetary drop-off in the next fiscal year that many dread.
Image: US Senate
"Certainly it does concern us," Kerry Peluso, associate vice president for research administration at Emory University in Atlanta, told __The Scientist__. "We want to see our researchers continue to be able to do their research." Though the announcement is not yet official, the White House has released some details of the proposed freeze in the run up to Obama's State of the Union address tonight and the release of his FY2011 budget proposal, which is slated for Monday (1st February). "The three-year freeze over the course of 10 years will save on the order of $250 billion," said press secretary Robert Gibbs at a White House linkurl:press briefing;http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/briefing-white-house-press-secretary-robert-gibbs-12610 yesterday. In an linkurl:entry;http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/01/26/putting-hatchets-vs-scapels-debate-about-budget-freeze-ice posted yesterday on The White House Blog, Vice President Joe Biden's chief economist and economic policy adviser Jared Bernstein said that Obama's freeze would be more like surgery and less like a hatchet job. "...the entire theory of the President's proposed freeze is to dial up the stuff that will support job growth and innovation while dialing down the stuff that doesn't," Bernstein wrote. "Under our plan, some discretionary spending will go up; some will go down. That's a big difference from a hatchet." But some aren't entirely convinced that science funding will be spared the axe. "We are extremely concerned about the proposed freeze on non-security discretionary spending, particularly in light of the compelling evidence that an innovation-driven economy is the future," said linkurl:Mary Woolley,;http://www.researchamerica.org/mary_woolley president and CEO of science advocacy group Research!America. "We're looking to the President for national priority-setting that's consistent with that goal." The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), another science advocacy organization, is holding out hope that Obama's past statements on the importance of science and research in rebuilding the economy portend a reprieve for federal research funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. "We're hopeful that science is enough of a priority in the president's agenda that the scientific agencies we care about will not be included [in the freeze]," FASEB spokesperson Carrie Wolinetz told __The Scientist__. "It's something that we're waiting to hear more details about."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:A windfall year at NIH;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56220/
[16th December 2009]*linkurl:2010 NIH budget bump;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56211/
[10th December 2009]*linkurl:NIH recovery grants top $5 billion;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56027/
[30th September 2009]
Advertisement
The Scientist
The Scientist

Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 10

January 27, 2010

The funding would be flat with 3% annual increase because of the inflation. A freeze for 3 years will amount to a roughly 10% cut in NIH budget. There is no way that will not reduce the level of funding.
Avatar of: HERBERT BINCH

HERBERT BINCH

Posts: 15

January 27, 2010

Let me see: First we may lose federal funding in some areas of research. Then, possibly, some NIH grants may not happen. This means academic research carried forward into the federal realm may never get finished in time to be realized as relevant or viable for industry here in the U.S. Hence China, India or elsewhere will continue to have a leading position in science and technology. I, personally, have now been severed from my science career for nearly 6 years and to me this means any "new" science jobs that would help to put America's unemployed scientists back to work might not occur.\n\nSounds to me like our president is not answering the jobs issue nor is he moving in a positive direction for those of us that need work.\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 7

January 27, 2010

Obama has no clue what he is doing. One day he is touting his $767billion stimulus. The next, the need for fiscal discipline. He seems as if he's back on the campaign trail, trying to stay popular with everyone, but doing the wrong things at the wrong time.\n\nAt a time when you need to stimulate the economy in the right spots (not to mention drive growth, research, innovation, university education) he is taking money away and distributing it to special interest groups that don't add to the multiplicity effect of govt spending.\n\nThe lack of funding towards science in this country (starting with those backwards conservatives) is going to wreck us economically in the future. There are less and less PhD students because of lack of funding, while China and India pump out more highly educated peers. I am afraid of what the USA will become 20 yrs from now.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 125

January 27, 2010

First, he addressed the need for more Americans to be trained as scientists and engineers who can make America technologically and, hence, economically competitive with the rest of the world, again. He supposedly relaxed the regulation on the stem cell research, in this regard, also. He trumpeted the recovery jobs that would create jobs or funding for more American scientists and engineers. But, now, he seems to be pulling the plug on the very government funding that is required for realizing all these, especially when the private funding or investment for science and technology has been drastically reduced due to the recession. It seems he's just giving one big lip service after another! In 2012, I'm voting him OUT!
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 27, 2010

I had to re-read this report several times to make sure I'm reading it correctly. Freeze on spending for non-defense/security projects? This is absolutely the opposite of what we should be doing! What will fuel jobs is money going into energy technology. We need a new grid, we need more renewable fuels and energy sources, we need people that are trained here in the US to do those jobs. This absolutely makes no sense whatsoever. I'm worried about America.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 34

January 27, 2010

The common notion that the scientist have lost passion for science but are in science for money/career, if it is true... one can think that if there is funding freeze the less interested scientists will leave science.. but what is happening is reverse... the stronger ones leave science (as they are competent) enriching the mediocres who remain! Besides this as few has pointed in comments (see the previous comments) -both India and China will keep on producing the more and more number of technical manpower who will eventually migrate to USA strive hard and start dominating- where will be the greatness of this of great nation after 20 yrs?-Wake up -America! \nBTW I had heard Obama expressing that the Science is one of the Most important area needed by the society -why this change Dear Obama?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 27, 2010

Obama hasn't kept his promises yet so why expect he will keep this one. Anyway the spending ceiling had already been raised on many important projects so now it will be frozen there.
Avatar of: David Fox III

David Fox III

Posts: 1

January 28, 2010

Let?s think about the big picture. He can?t cut defense spending while in the midst of two wars. He also can?t cut security spending when we remain under the threat of terrorism. Although I disagree with the fundamental idea of leveling off spending in science and I realize what the long term effects will be both for intramural and extramural funding, what he proposes may be the choice we are left with. I have seen no direct statement suggesting science is a target for a funding freeze, however, I expect it to come sooner or later. I was hopeful that under President Obama?s administration, science funding would once again see the hay-day of budget doubling desperately needed after the Bush administration?s war on science funding. It is sad to see this not come to pass early in his administration. I do hold hope that it will come to pass if we give him a chance to first properly right the economy through painful but necessary measures. We must focus on the long term health of our economy as a whole through a balancing act of deficit reduction and job creation. In essence, the U.S. must grow jobs and pay the bills before we can justify an increase spending for science. He still has my vote for the next election.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 28, 2010

Obama has made it absolutely clear throughout his campaign and presidency so far that science and technology are amongst his top priorities. Please remember the zillions of dollars that came to scientists in 2009, the release of stem cells, the focus on green energy, the improvements to math and science education, his comments in the speech last night about the overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change, etc. etc. etc. Rather than gripe about what _might_ happen a *year* from now (that would be totally inconsistent with these messages so far), why not a) enjoy the fact that we have a president who can even comprehend what science is and b) try to help good things happen now? For example, you can write letters to your senators and tell them to work together to get legislation moving, rather than spend 4 years in total gridlock.

Follow The Scientist

icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube
Advertisement

Stay Connected with The Scientist

  • icon-facebook The Scientist Magazine
  • icon-facebook The Scientist Careers
  • icon-facebook Neuroscience Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Genetic Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Cell Culture Techniques
  • icon-facebook Microbiology and Immunology
  • icon-facebook Cancer Research and Technology
  • icon-facebook Stem Cell and Regenerative Science
Advertisement
Advertisement
Life Technologies