The good news: federal research and development in science will go up $2.2 billion in 2006.
The bad news:
Of that increase, 97 percent will go to Department of Defense weapons development and National Aeronautics and Space Administration spacecraft programs, AAAS said.
Funding for other federal R&D increases only slightly, and actually falls if adjusted for inflation, AAAS analyst Kei Koizumi said.
"For 2006, for most areas, it's looking pretty bad. The total is going to be a new record, but it's going to be big increases in two areas," Koizumi said. "Obviously, those are big priorities but in an overall budget in which Congress and the president are trying to cut domestic spending, all other R&D programs are flat at best and falling in most cases."
The nation's universities and research institutes fret the emphasis increasingly falls on development, which tends to help industry, instead of the experimentation and exploration associated with basic research.
Research spending is falling or stagnating, disproportionately hurting the colleges and universities that depend on federal support to run their electrical engineering, computer science and other departments, said Tobin Smith, senior federal relations officer for the Association of American Universities.
The group's 60 research universities account for 60% of federally supported, university-based research.Who needs a bunch of damn scientists, anyway? All it takes is a little creativity and prayer to develop the cutting edge technology that put America ahead through the entire 21st century. Besides, R&D is so last year.
NASA will see a 7.3 percent increase in R&D funding, much of it for spacecraft to carry humans to the moon and beyond. R&D spending on the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation and Interior, including the U.S. Geological Survey, will rise. But spending on Energy, Commerce and Agriculture will drop, as it will for the NIH, AAAS said.Ah, well, who needs better energy development or food production when we have oil shale and McDonald's?
Promoters of basic research said investments made today may not pay off for years, if not decades. The National Science Foundation notes it supported Google Inc. co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page back when they were graduate students at Stanford University studying better ways of searching for information on the Internet.
"A lot of innovation comes from basic research, and it takes a number of years for that basic work to transform itself into innovations," said Sam Rankin, associate executive director of the American Mathematical Society and chairman of the Coalition for National Science Funding.
Others say the increased Pentagon spending should help the economy, producing more civilian spinoffs than ever before as spending shifts from large weapons systems toward networking and information-processing technologies.Dwight D. Eisenhower must be spinning in his grave.