President Obama may have promised an eco-friendly and science-centric term in office, but it looks like the Washington political machine has other ideas right from the start. The economic recovery “stimulus” funding package has just taken a serious bi-partisan trimming before it faces its Senate vote tomorrow, and the savings look to have come from many areas that the Obama administration was holding dear.
Gone, in its entirety, is a $2 billion fund that would’ve expanded broadband cover to some of the more remote and rural areas of the country, with the intention of connecting up more citizens, and stimulating regional economies.
$2 billion was going to Health Information Technology grants in the original package, with the aim of connecting up doctors and medical technicians electronically and thus saving lives and money. That fund is gone too, which is bad news for the scheme. And remember, 7,000 deaths each year are caused by bad handwriting and misunderstanding of notes.
A $427 million fund to boost the work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which helps monitor climate change, does research into the environment and issues weather warnings, was cut 23%.
A $600 million fund to provide hybrid vehicles for federal use, thus improving the government’s carbon footprint has undergone a $300 million cut. The environmental damage caused by federal buildings was also to be reduced with a $7 billion grant to improve their energy efficiency–that fund was cut in half.
A $100 million package to aid the work of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (which regulates scientific and technological standards) is entirely gone, as is a $50 million grant to NASA, a $50 million grant for “aeronautics,” and $100 million for “science.” The National Science foundation was due $200 million to improve its work promoting science and engineering through research programs and education–now it’ll get nothing.
These cuts are, of course, just some of the slashes that have been made: Among the $85 billion total cuts there are plenty that serve other aspects of society, like $5.8 for “Health Prevention Activities” and $122 million for the Coast Guard cutter ships, and $40 billion for state “fiscal stabilization.” And there remains much funding in the remaining stimulus package that will promote science and greenness.
But there’re a lot of environmental and science-based funds that will now get reduced or zero funding. And it’s easy to argue that by reducing funding for environmental friendliness and stimulating science and engineering that the government is storing up some problems for its own future. Is this a case of the President’s forward thinking policies crashing into a backwardly-scientific, environmentally-careless, economically-supercautious governmental machine?