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At AAAS Forum, Experts Detail R&D Bounty—and Warn of Tough Budget Pressures Ahead
In the weeks since a new president and a new Congress took office, scientists and science advocates have been celebrating a change of fortunes: After years of flat budgets there were new initiatives and new funding across disciplines and for science and math education, too. But on the first morning of the 2009 AAAS Forum on Science & Technology Policy, budget experts warned that the good times may not last long.
If the financial stimulus plan approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama is effective at reversing the nation's recession, lawmakers could quickly come under pressure to trim unprecedented deficit spending. And, the speakers said, frustration with the economy may provoke a backlash against science.
"As soon as there's unambiguous evidence that the economy is growing again, the administration is going to turn on a dime," said Stanley Collender, managing director of the Washington, D.C., office of Qorvis Communications. Given Obama's pledge to trim the deficit to $500 billion by 2013, he added, "some ambitious deficit-reduction reduction" efforts could emerge by 2011.
To offset this swing of the pendulum, Collender and others urged science and engineering leaders to energize their efforts to communicate the value of science and build better ties with voters.
To hear more detailed forecasts about U.S. science funding—and the fiscal and political pressures ahead—read the full story.