Contempt for Science and Health in the FY2021 Budget Proposal

The Washington Post article below [1] is a nice summary of what is currently digested from the executive branch’s FY2021 federal budget proposal. That dropped yesterday. Specifically regarding agencies that fund basic, curiosity-driven science, these excerpts are indicative of the pattern of proposed effects:

The Energy Department would get a boost in funding for safeguarding the nuclear weapons stockpile, a core mission, but outside that program would see a 28.7 percent cut, including more than 1 billion cut from its $7 billion science program.

Zeroed out in the Trump budget is funding for a new space telescope, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, which is entering its construction phase. WFIRST would scrutinize planets orbiting distant stars and study the distribution of galaxies in an attempt to better understand the evolution of the universe. It remains a priority of the astronomy community and has survived two previous attempts by the administration to kill its funding.

Under the request, the National Science Foundation’s budget would shrink from $8.3 billion in 2020 to $7.7 billion in 2021, a cut of about 7 percent. The NSF funds basic research through grants to a wide variety of scientists and plays a major role in funneling money to programs that might not normally receive investment from the private sector. The Trump budget reduction would return NSF’s budget to close to the level it was in 2017.

(from Ref. 1)

The typical pattern in the proposal follows past efforts: fund defense and applied science, starve basic research, decapitate environmental science.

The proposal is likely dead on arrival, as have been past proposals from this president. It matters now what Congress decides to actually do to allocate the budget, especially since the president’s budget does not attempt to reign in the federal spending deficit in event the next decade.


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