Action! Urgent!

The American Physical Society just woke up to the budget threat…

To cut a long story short, the US Government has no budget for 2010-2011.
It has been operating under a continuous resolution since Oct 1, and this expires in March.

The House, which originated budget resolutions, generally, wants a high profile cut.
$100 billion in round numbers.
But, not in Social Security, Medicare, debt service, or Military.

So, the $100G is going to be cut out of the $500G discretionary budget.

But, we’re half way through the fiscal year, so almost half that money is already obligated,
so we’re looking at more like 30-40% cut from the remainder.

That means NO NEW MONEY going out, including grants that have been approved but not sent out.
Further, it really means rescission and clawbacks – taking back to the agencies funding already disbursed.

This has been done before, but this would be unusually bad, and since extensions are pretty much precluded now, there are not many reserves out at the universities etc.

Which means half way through the year, the funding to pay for students and postdocs and faculty salaries and travel and equipment etc will vanish.

This is ++ungood.

List of the Program Cuts (pdf)

NIST: $159M
NOAA: $484M
NASA: $303M
NSF: $330M
$150M from Research
$62M from MREF
DoE: $893M from Office of Science
NIH: $1600M

$4900M cut to Department of Education with $15927M scheduled to be cut relative to Obama’s request for next year…

In fact much steeper cuts relative to White House budget everywhere, including defence for 2011-2012.

They may be surprised what happens economically when some of these cuts are made.
Especially the rapid shut down on a lot of construction and building maintenance.

Senate will still have its say, and Obama has threatened a veto,
a shutdown won’t be fun either.

Interesting times.


THE ISSUE IN BRIEF: Last Friday, House Republicans, who hold the
majority, introduced a detailed plan to slash $100 billion from
the non-defense portion of the FY 2011 discretionary budget. The
plan, which amounts to a reduction of about 33 percent in federal
spending during the balance of the fiscal year, would devastate
significant portions of federal commitments to science. It is
critical that you contact your member of Congress NOW in order to
avoid severe disruptions of research grants, cessation of national
user facilities operations; halting of major science construction
projects; initiation of layoffs, furloughs and termination of
laboratory personnel; and reductions in support for science education.

DETAILS: The Continuing Resolution under which the federal government
has been operating since October 1, 2010 and which is set to expire
on March 4 contains approximately $530 billion for civilian programs
out of a total budget of $3.54 trillion. With only 7 months of the
fiscal year remaining, the $100 billion House reduction would be
taken from unexpended balances totaling about $300 billion. The
legislation, H.R. 1, prepared by the House Republican leadership
at the behest of extreme fiscal conservatives, would have the effect
of slashing the remaining balances of the NSF and NIH budgets by
almost 10 percent and the DOE Office of Science and NIST by more
than 30 percent. Applied science programs would be hit even harder.
Program reductions are summarized in the links provided on the
Website of the House Appropriations Committee:

Appropriations Committee press release


  1. #1 wolfgang
    February 16, 2011

    The US spends about 40 billion per year on pet food.
    The NSF budget is less than 7 billion annually (*).

    My advice to scientists: grow a fur.

    (*)according to wikipedia the NSF finances about 20% of basic research in the US, which would make the total about 35 billion.

  2. #2 Orac
    February 16, 2011

    Well, for point of reference, the NIH budget has been in the ~$30 billion range the last few years.

  3. #3 Pat Durrell
    February 16, 2011

    I think some interesting `broader impact’ statements in proposals could come from this…

  4. #4 Pat Durrell
    February 16, 2011

    My previous comments referring, of course, to the pet food expenditures.
    Interesting times, indeed. Just bloody scary… any hopes for some sort of compromise (yah, I know…) to take some of the wind out of these `sails of change’?

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