What the Stimulus Package Means for Science

What’s in the Stimulus Package for science?

When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act went through Congress, I assumed my favorite provisions would be stripped out. Instead, the Senate increased the funding for NIH to over $6 billion. By the time President Obama signed the law, the total influx into NIH had reached $10.4 billion over two years (out of an annual budget of $29 billion, which has been flat for 6 years). I’m not sure when the extra $2 billion for NSF entered the bill, but that money is on its way as well.

Readers of this blog know that this is a major change in US policy. I had hopes for this administration, but that this is actually a lot more than I hoped for.

Once the celebration is done, though, it’s important to note that even if these funding increases become permanent, it will at best help us keep pace with the rest of the world, rather than continuing to fall behind the leaders. It’s certainly not enough to guarantee America’s future as the leading producer of science.

This New York Times article has more information on how the science stimulus moneys will be
spent.

(Just to get ahead of the critics: the stimulus package also invests in education and other activities that will directly or indirectly affect American science. Here I just focus on funding. We don’t have enough funding for our existing scientists, so without solving that problem, there is no point in educating new ones.)

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