Public Release:  U.S. President's budget proposal means 5-year cuts 'well below historic levels'

AAAS analyzes Federal R&D 2005 Budget

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Washington, D.C., 22 April 2004 -- With a budget deficit estimated at $521 billion this year, coupled with a commitment to halve it in five years, U.S. President Bush is proposing a budget that would mean cuts in research and development (R&D) funding for all but three federal agencies, according to the latest analysis from AAAS, the non-profit science society.

"The projected cuts to most nondefense R&D programs would leave key programs with budgets well below recent historical levels," said Kei Koizumi, who handles federal R&D budget analysis for AAAS.

"Particularly during a Presidential election year, it's important for policymakers and taxpayers to understand the impacts of any federal budget changes, especially any proposals that may have implications for the pace of scientific discoveries in coming years," added Al Teich, AAAS's director of science and policy program.

Koizumi will present a detailed analysis of the President's FY 2005 budget at the 29th Annual AAAS Science and Technology Policy Forum in Washington, D.C.

While the proposed budget concentrates resources on defense, homeland security and space, it could produce severe consequences for federal support of R&D over the next five years, with the steepest cuts occurring in the fall after this year's elections.

But the real costs of the FY2005 budget lie beyond 2009. Proposals to extend expiring tax provisions and the cost of Medicare drug benefits would reduce revenues by more than $1.1 trillion over the next decade. These fiscal impacts could come as the baby boomer generation hits retirement age, resulting in enormous increases in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid expenses.

Agency Impacts

The president has proposed budget decreases at nine of the 12 federal agencies with the largest R&D portfolios, with only the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) staying ahead of inflation. Large projected increases in NASA and DHS obscures the steep cuts in all other nondefense agencies. In fact, DHS will see a $100 million increase from FY2004 to FY2005, with small increases projected each following year, culminating in a 25 percent boost and record-breaking funding levels over five years after adjusting for inflation.

Although the space exploration programs at NASA will benefit from large funding increases, all other R&D areas will decline dramatically over the next five years, including Earth Science (down 15.9 percent), aeronautics (down 16.2 percent), and Biological and Physical Research (down 11.8 percent).

AAAS analysis shows that even a past favorite like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is susceptible to cuts. Over the next five years, NIH's $27 billion portfolio will see a modest rise due to increases in biodefense research. But funding for non-biodefense programs will fall by seven percent.

Many R&D funding programs face steep cuts over the next five years:

  • Department of Energy (DOE) programs will see dramatic decreases such as: energy R&D (down 21 percent by FY2009), fossil energy R&D (down 22 percent), and energy conservation (down 26 percent).
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA) intramural research will decline by 19 percent and extramural research grants will see a 28 percent cut.
  • At the Department of Commerce, the Bush Administration would eliminate the Advanced Technology Program (ATP), as well as cut the budgets of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by 10.5 percent and 17.3 percent respectively by FY 2009.

"In order to meet deficit reduction targets, even agencies receiving modest increases like NIH and NSF will see their R&D funding fall beginning in FY 2006," Koizumi said.

Discretionary Defense Spending

In the wake of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been spectacular increases in defense discretionary spending after nearly a decade of relative restraint in the 1990's. Koizumi adds, to reduce the amount of discretionary spending, the president's budget allots nothing for future costs in those countries. President Bush has promised to postpone further funding requests until after the November election, although at least $50 billion will be needed by the end of 2004.

"While specific reductions in these projections are not inevitable, similar cuts will be necessary of future Congresses and Administrations focus on restraining domestic spending instead of considering other budget options," Koizumi said.

As the FY 2005 budget now moves to Congress, the president faces Republican control in both chambers, making it much more likely than in past years that his FY 2005 proposal will be enacted in close to its proposed form. However, with the crisis in the Middle East, and a slow track-record for passing the 2003 budget, it may be months before we see the FY 2005 budget resolved.

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For more information visit: http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd.

MEDIA NOTE: Kei Koizumi will present his report during the AAAS 29th Annual Science & Technology Policy Forum, at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, 22 April 2004. The Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill is located at 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. 3 blocks north of the Union Station Metro stop.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves some 265 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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