Trump released a budget blueprint last week that proposed rather drastic cuts in research and development, most of which would be channeled towards defense (in the form of wall building and boosting military defenses). Although it has to get through Congress later in the year to become reality, there is no doubt that the livelihood of scientists and the state of scientific research in America is coming under attack by Mr Trump. Here’s a brief summary of his proposed plans:
Trump’s proposed 2018 budget for R&D reflected in terms of Institute, Proposed budget change (% change from budget in 2016)
- National Institute of Health, NIH: $5.8 billion (-20%)
- Department of Energy (Science), DOE: $900 million (-20%)
- Department of Energy (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy): $300 million (-100%)
- NASA Earth Science: $102 million (-5%)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (NOAA-OAR): $250 million (-50%)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): $2.5 billion (-31%)
- Department of Energy (National Nuclear Security Administration): $1.4 billion (+11%)
- Homeland Security: $2.8 billion (+7%)
Matt Hourihon’s article nicely sums up which scientific programs would be affected together with more informative charts.
The basic goal of the budget was to increase defense capital by $58 billion (+10%). To do so without incurring significant debt meant reducing spending on non-defense capital by $54 billion, though that still leaves $4 billion unaccounted for.
Trump not only cuts funding for science but nearly every other area including housing and urban development, anti-poverty measures, agriculture, transportation and education. Read Vox’s article for an overview.
Although funding towards basic research and whether it drives economic growth has always been debated, the motivation behind the proposed steps seems driven more by xenophobia than by “making America great again”.
Trump seems to acknowledge that industry support for scientific endeavors are currently strong, which was his reason for completely de-funding grants for energy research. However the large cuts in basic science highlight his lack of understanding or even care towards the role a government plays in setting the climate for scientific research.
Ultimately, his actions would likely produce a brain drain in America. Thanks not only to the looming lack of research funding, but a general growing discomfort of foreign researchers feeling rather unwelcome.
I’m just glad to be living in a land where the leaders believe in the importance of science and share similar beliefs to Albert Einstein who said:
“Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest for all technical endeavours … in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse for mankind.”