Appropriate Stimulus?

The proposed economic stimulus package includes some funding for science.
Chunk for NSF, lot of facility funding.
NASA gets climate science.
DoE gets some toys.

Appropriations Stimulus 0115 (pdf)

The total package is somewhere in the $800+ billion range, as proposed.
With about 1/3 proposed as tax cuts, the rest short term supplemental funding.

$10 billion is for science, largely for facilities and refurbishment. Mostly NSF and NIH.
Looks like this is a two year (effectively 18 months since much of '08-09 fiscal year will be gone if-and-when it passes) package, and then we ramp to regular budgets.
But the state intent is to ramp up science funding to double current on something like decade time scale.

Detailed summary, pages 8-9, is where the beef is:

  • NSF: $3 billion.
    "...$2G for expanding employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering, to meet environmental challenges and improve global economic competitiveness..." Hmm.
    $400M for major research facilities.
    $300M for shared major equipment.
    $200M to modernize university and lab facilities.
    $100M to improve STEM instruction.

    Key will be how the qualifier on the $2G is interpreted.
    The faciltiies boost is sensible, gets ground broken on shovel ready projects backed up in the pipeline.

  • NASA: $600M
    $400M for climate change research.
    $150M for aero.
    $50M for hurricane/flood damage.

    Ouch. I guess NASA is going to get a look over.
    My geo friends will benefit, which is good, but no R&D boost for NASA Science? That sucks.

  • DoE: $1.9G for basic research!
    Including HEP, Nuke, Fusion + labs and facilities.
    $400M for ARPA(Energy).

    Wow. Score for the HEP crowd. ITER back on, I presume.

  • NIH: $3.5G
    $1.5G for university facility renovations. Got to polish up those labs full of aging young PIs.
    $1.5G for "good jobs" in disease research. Huh? "good"? Postdocs and NIH staff? What happens in 2011 then?
    $500M for NIH campus upgrade.
  • CDC - $462 to impement building and facilities plan.
  • $900M for pandemic 'flu prep; plus NBC/Cyber threats at HHS. Not DHS.
  • NOAA - $600M for new space toys. Good stuff.
  • NIST - $300M - construction.
    $100M for manufacturing standards.
  • Ag - $209M for maintenance.
  • USGS - $200M for repair and upgrades.

This is mostly for facility wishlist backlog and construction, repair and maintenance.
Get some local general contractors employed and tech companies selling high end facility and equipment.

DoE will do well, someone is being nice to the old time physics crowd.

NSF - depends on how they interpret the guidance on the $2G chunk.
Could be good, could be bad if overinterpreted and too "applied" short term stuff.

But, wait, we're not done yet...

p. 14 has the higher education stimulus:

$6G for higher education renovation, modernization, tech and energy efficiency.
$15.6G boost to Pell Grants.
$490M for fed work-study.
Increase Stafford loans.

Student aid will be useful to keep people in class to ride out the hard times.
The renovation funds will be spread thin, but it helps, and keeps local contractors employed and buying new stuff.
Depends on how the money is spread out - by State and within States.
Probably looking at $1-10s of M per university, enough to roll over one-few projects per institution.

State fiscal relief, to stop cuts to state supported stuff, like higher education, will also help;
IF the States pass it through and actually give more money to higher ed...
If they quickly do extra "fake cuts" and then restore the fake cuts without boosting back to or beyond old levels of funding, well then it is useless. To us.

Hm, could be worse.
Individually the various bits for science and education are relatively sensible given the time scale and need to get money out the door.
Flushing out facilities backlog and doing backed up maintenance is terribly sensible and effective in the short term.

The Krugman Complaint may be right though - it is not ambitious enough, to reverse the current crunch quite a bit more might be needed.
Of course Congress is not done with it - they can delay, redirect and horse trade any and all of the bits.


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Nice breakdown, Steinn thanks (who needs Physics Today for that now anymore?!)

"My geo friends will benefit, which is good, but no R&D boost for NASA Science? That sucks.":

Yes that sucks as it could affect me directly (NASA Science)...but as you said it is not final yet.