Congress hates science, too

Congress hates science, too

Congress hates science, too

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 19 2007 8:38 PM

Congress hates science, too

Remember when I said Bush hates science?

He's not alone.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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The House and Senate passed an omnibus budget -- the budget needed to fund the operation of the government. That would normally be great, but they have made some pretty severe science cuts. At first blush they don't sound bad, or even really like cuts: in general science agencies got a raise of 1-3% over the previous year.

However, when you account for inflation, those raises don't keep up, so in reality the agencies affected -- NIH, NSF, NASA, and others -- got a cut. And while the cuts aren't crippling, exactly, they come at a time when the US has already ramped up some big projects, which means that any cut at all hurts more than usual.

When I worked at Goddard Space Flight Center we all went through this many times. I was a contractor, so the NASA cuts didn't affect me directly, but the annual raise I got was sometimes less than inflation. And I had it relatively good, since other people I knew actually got their salaries cut back. Oddly, mortgage companies don't care what your salary is once they have your name on the dotted line. So a lot of folks were hurt directly by this.

And here we are again. When budgets get hit, it's usually salaries that take the heat, so this will suck for a lot of scientists.

I didn't even know the budget was being worked on, so I didn't call and write my Senators and Representative. I'm a little ticked at the mainstream media for not even mentioning this. Apparently they are more concerned with Romney's haircut.

I can console myself with the knowledge that the Democrats have now abrogated for all eternity their spines. They caved to the President's demand for Iraq war funding. Oh -- I also heard abstinence-only education got funded for another year. It's cold comfort that it was at the same level as last year, so they get a hit as well. But funding provably and proven useless stuff at any level is insulting anyway.

Anyway, if you want more, JoAnn at Cosmic Variance has details, as does MyDD (specifically about FermiLab's hit), and Slashdot.