Friday, 3 April 1987 Washington, DC
STAR WARS FLUNKED ITS FIRST TEST ON THE FY 88 BUDGET
yesterday, when the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Research
and Development voted to cut the President's request for SDI from
$5.2B to $3.3B. It was a foregone conclusion that the request
would be cut, but this would put SDI funding below the FY 87
level. It is risky to read too much into a subcommittee vote
this early in the budget process, but the vote was taken in a
closed session chaired by Les Aspin (D-WI), the powerful chairman
of the full Armed Services Committee. There will be attempts to
cut the request still further.
. THE GRAMM-RUDMAN-HOLLINGS TARGET OF $108B FOR THE FY 88
would require a much larger cut than the $36B year-to-year
cuts contemplated when the law was adopted. The trouble is
that the starting deficit in 1986 was underestimated by $49B.
The result is that $63B in spending cuts or tax increases in FY
88 are needed to reach the target, as William Gray (D-PA),
Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has been pointing out.
Everyone else seems to be trying not to notice. The President's
budget request calls for a $36B cut, as does the mark of the
Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Lawton Chiles (D-FL).
3. SCIENCE FARES WELL IN THE CHAIRMAN'S MARK
of the Senate
Budget Committee, which is the starting point for Committee
deliberations on a budget resolution. It calls for a reduction
in every budget function through FY 91 except Function 250,
Science, Space and Technology and Function 500, Education and
Training. Specifically, Chiles' mark calls for an increase in
Function 250 of $1B above the Presidents request, including:
$300M to NASA for space flight activities and to cover Challenger losses;
$300M to revitalize basic research at NSF and for high
energy physics at DoE; and,
$400M for major new science initiatives, meaning the SSC
and the space station. Chiles' is calling for full
funding for the SSC with new money. No other science
program is to be taxed, including high energy physics.
4. MORE ADVICE ON NSF CENTERS is being sought
from the National
Academy by Erich Bloch. Just last week we reported on formation
of an Academy panel to define the structure of the Science and
Technology Centers (WN 27 Mar 87).
He has also requested a
policy briefing on "Trends in Research Modes," which is
Washington talk for "what is the right balance between Centers
and principal investigator funding?" Hans Frauenfelder and
Joshua Lederberg will co-chair the briefing committee.