Friday, 22 March 96 Washington, DC
1. BEFORE WE TALK ABOUT THE FY 97 BUDGET, WHAT HAPPENED TO FY 96?
Policy wonks were running all over Washington this week getting
agency briefings on the President's FY 97 budget request.
Up on Capitol Hill, however, Congress is still working on a budget
for whatever's left of FY 96. Yesterday, for the 11th time,
it passed a temporary spending bill to keep the government running --
but only for another week (WN 15 Mar 96).
To appease the White House, the Senate restored $4.1B for education
and environment to its version of an omnibus spending bill, but the
President wants more and the House budget hawks think it's too much already. Sigh...
2. THE SPIN DOCTORS ASSESS THE PRESIDENT'S FY 97 BUDGET REQUEST.
Bob Walker (R-PA), chair of the House Science Committee, calls the
budget "a blow to basic research and a boon to industrial policy
masquerading as science." Jack Gibbons, Director of OSTP, says,
"The bottom line is that for the 4th consecutive year the President
has called for increases in science and technology." Are they talking
about the same budget? Overall, basic research is up about 2%,
while applied research is up about twice that. After inflation, that
won't put any new money into basic, and the Republican Congress won't
agree to any increases in applied.
- NSF: OMB says NSF Research is up 4%. The NSF press release says
it's up 8.7%, but that appears to include $50M from the zeroed out
Academic Infrastructure line.
- NASA: The space station will be fully funded again at $2.1B. But a 9% increase for Mission to Planet Earth is doomed.
- NIST: The core research program would go up 5%. An increase of 15% in the Advanced Technology Program won't happen.
3. HAZEL O'LEARY'S BUDGET REVIEW STRESSED PRODUCTS AND INDUSTRY.
The budget calls for a 6% cut in the DOE budget. It could be more.
In her review, Secretary O'Leary declared that "R&D are the heart of
what we do." But only 1.5 of her 40 minutes was on the R part, then
she was back on "corporate profitability." And today, the Staff
Director of the House Budget Committee predicted that DOE will be
targeted for additional cuts, because "applied research is under the
microscope; we favor basic over applied."
4. THE PRESIDENT'S BUDGET SLASHES FUNDING FOR HYDROGEN RESEARCH!
In Senate testimony on Wednesday, Bob Walker seemed to overcome his
aversion to "picking winners and losers" -- at least when it comes to
losers. He was indignant that the budget would increase spending on
wind energy, while cutting funds for hydrogen, which he described
as "an abundant and renewable fuel that can be extracted from
water." Hmmm, we might also consider extracting carbon fuel from
CO2; it has the same environmental advantages.