Science Budget: The Damage of Sequestration

In a new report, the Obama Administration details what will happen if Congress can’t find a budget compromise before January 2013.

Neon_Lab_BeakersLast August, to end the debt ceiling crisis that led to a downgraded U.S. credit rating and a deeper decline in Americans’ esteem for their leaders, President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011. The legislation — a stopgap measure meant to allow the country to raise its debt limit in the short term while reducing its deficit in the long — included a significant stipulation: If Congress failed to produce a more permanent deficit reduction bill by early January 2013, then an automatic cut would take effect. Known as the “sequester” — but perhaps better known as the “ticking timebomb” or “the doomsday scenario” or the “that’s what we get, you guys” — the cut would trim federal spending by roughly $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

Recently, President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget — in an act that was partly a week-late response to a legislative demand, partly an act of speculative information-gathering, and partly an act of political posturing — released a report exploring the effects of sequestration. And they include, unsurprisingly, significant cuts to science programs on top of everything else.

Science magazine highlights the science-related reductions. Among them:

  • At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), authorized spending would drop by more than $2.5 billion, to about $28.3 billion, according to the report.
  • The National Science Foundation would see a $551 million cut in its overall budget authority, to about $5.9 billion.
  • A $400 million reduction would reduce the budget of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to about $4.5 billion.
  • NASA’s science programs would drop by $417 million to about $4.7 billion, and its Exploration account would fall by $309 million to about $3.5 billion.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s science and technology account would see a $65 million cut to about $730 million.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research, operations, and facilities account would drop $257 million to about $2.9 billion.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey would get an $88 million cut to about $1 billion.
  • The cuts would be somewhat deeper — 9.4 percent — for defense research programs.

Click here to read the complete article.

Source: Megan Garber | The Atlantic