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How Sequestration Will Affect Federal Research Agencies 277

carmendrahl writes "Unless Congress and the White House act before March 1, the automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester will kick in. And federal agencies are bracing for the fiscal impact. Federal agencies and the White House are releasing details about how these cuts will affect their operations. If the cuts take effect, expect fewer inspections to the food supply, cuts to programs that support cleanups at former nuclear plants, and plenty of researcher layoffs, among other things."
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How Sequestration Will Affect Federal Research Agencies

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  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:42AM (#42977657)
    It's worth noting that all this discomfort only results in a drop of $85 billion. In part, that is because mandatory spending, which is something like 60% of the budget, isn't affected.

    Still, looking at the list, there's a number of worthy budget cuts, such as the oversized federal law enforcement, small business loans, and various "government service" rent seeking. And one really has a hard time arguing against a 13% cut back in defense spending.

    As I see it, the problem with sequestering isn't that it cuts government services, but that by its nature it can't target less effective spending or any mandatory spending at all.
  • Re:Chaos (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sooner Boomer ( 96864 ) <sooner.boomr@ g m a> on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:46AM (#42977675) Journal

    Shame it's not tied into Politicians' pay,

    Actually, their pay (Congress/Senate) is supposed to be withheld until the sequestration ends.
    If this is the end of the civilized world, as some are fearmongering it, why was Obama out on a golf vacation instead of working on the budget? Does this show how seriously he takes it? Sequestration was his idea after all.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @07:12AM (#42977781)
    But do you really want congress to micromanage cuts? Think about that for a bit.

    The way this is working out, the secretaries and/or chiefs of each major department are going to make the choice of what is going to get cut within their department and thats surely better than having congress micromanage the cuts. The only time this isnt the case is with earmarked spending, and fuck most of that spending anyways.

    This is the only way cuts should be done, and cuts are much needed pretty much everywhere. Every department aside from NASA has ballooned out of control, and even in NASA's case some of the spending is highly dubious ($8 billion on the Webb telescope? Some serious, possibly criminal, inefficiency is happening here.)

    I think we would all like to see the DoD budget cut a lot more, but than in no way means that the DoE, DoA, DHS, FDA, .. and so forth should not also see major cuts.
  • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <(gterich) (at) (> on Friday February 22, 2013 @07:26AM (#42977831) Journal

    Just a few years ago, the budget was 2/3 of what it is now, so how were food inspections paid for then?

    Most people don't realize that this big deficit spending problem started when the $787B "one time stimulus" became part of the baseline budget and was re-spent (and then some) year after year after year on the biggest government expansion ever seen on this Earth. That $787B is STILL being spent over and over again.

    Bond Bubble Ben is still printing Bernanke Bucks at a rate of about $1T/year as well, because the FED is the only entity willing to buy new US debt anymore.

    When are Americans going to wake up and realize that you can't spend money you don't have on things you neither want nor need and expect to come out ahead at the end of the day?

    I guess "as long as I'm getting mine" is the new American Dream.

    Here are some gross, as in disgusting, numbers for US Government Spending:

    2006: 2655.1B
    2007: 2728.7B
    2008: 2982.5B
    2009: 3517.7B
    2010: 3456.2B
    2011: 3598.1B

    2001: 1862.8B

    If you take the 2001 spending figure and adjust it for inflation, it is 2411B, so in 2011 dollars we're spending 1186B more than we were in 2001.

    1.2T in government growth, people. That's 49%. And that's just government growth at the federal level. Government is taking fully 50% more money from us (and our kids, and their kids, and probably also their kids after that) than they were 10 years ago.

    Sources: [] []

  • Re:It's a scam. (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @08:11AM (#42978099)

    Nothing is getting cut. Period.

    In all cases, they're getting more money than they got last year. Except that instead of an 8% increase, they're getting a 6% increase. And that's what the socialist in the White House is calling a "cut".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @08:19AM (#42978141)

    First of all, as the sibling notes, those budget numbers don't include Bush's war budgets, which were designated as a "supplemental" budget. Bush's budgets were much higher than published. And 2001 was still at the height of the dot-com bubble, when the economy was very strong.

    And the economy is still relatively weak. Ask most economists; during a recession, do you cut spending, or increase spending to stimulate the economy? Most would agree that deficit spending is necessary to prevent a bigger crash.

  • Not $85 billion (Score:5, Informative)

    by blogagog ( 1223986 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @08:41AM (#42978259)
    The automatic sequestration will only remove $44 billion from this year's budget. Bigger cuts will occur in later years. But you should know that the government will still spend more this year than last, despite the sequestration. It's just that the increase won't be as much. The crying of poverty is just political BS.
  • Re:Chaos (Score:5, Informative)

    by pedestrian crossing ( 802349 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @08:49AM (#42978289) Homepage Journal

    Actually, their pay (Congress/Senate) is supposed to be withheld until the sequestration ends.

    Unlike the rest of federal employees who won't get their pay back after sequestration ends, congressmen/senators will.

    If this is the end of the civilized world, as some are fearmongering it, why was Obama out on a golf vacation instead of working on the budget?

    It is the legislative branch who has failed to act, not the executive.

    Does this show how seriously he takes it? Sequestration was his idea after all.

    Though Obama proposed the idea, 174 House Republicans, a majority of the majority, joined 95 Democrats to pass the plan. So Republicans arguably own the sequester as much as Obama, if not more so, since Obama never wanted to link spending cuts to the debt ceiling.

  • by fearofcarpet ( 654438 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:07AM (#42978405)

    Maybe cutting welfare for scientists isn't the best choice for first round budget trimming, but that budget does have to go down at some point.

    Welfare? Are you high? Investments in research consistently yield the highest returns of any form of investment because they generate the technology and IP that drives the entire modern economy, including keeping people healthy and living longer. Why do you think the DoD invests so much in research? It's because it produces technology that directly benefits every aspect of the military. Besides, welfare implies a handout in place of money that would otherwise be earned; i) scientists don't pocket that money, they use it to hire people (i.e., to "create jobs") and to purchase necessary equipment/infrastructure--it is definition of stimulative and ii) where else are you supposed to get $1 million to do fundamental research? Private companies and philanthropic organizations (and Defense) fund specific research goals that are near to technological application, not the zillions of person-hours of basic research on which they were built.

    If there is anything that a sane, rational government should spend money on, it is scientific research. And this isn't "the first round" of cuts for science, which have been under assault by Congress for years, but flies under the radar because ordinary people can't be bothered to see the connection between the plummeting quality and quantity of STEM in the US and research funding.

    Not to mention that the entire annual budget for the NSF is ~$8 billion, which is about how much money was just up and lost, in cash, in Iraq. The Pentagon probably blows $8 billion on toilet paper in a year.

  • Re:Same old same old (Score:5, Informative)

    by john.r.strohm ( 586791 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @09:09AM (#42978413)

    From a David Casey online newsletter, courtesy of a friend's blog:

    Lesson #1

    US Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
    Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
    New debt: $1,650,000,000,000
    National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
    Recent budget cuts: $38,500,000,000

    Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:

    * Annual family income: $21,700
    * Money the family spent: $38,200
    * New debt on the credit card: $16,500
    * Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
    * Total budget cuts so far: $385

  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @10:56AM (#42979375) Homepage
    It's called the Washington Monument defense, after the Interior Department's scheme to avoid being cut back in the Reagan administration. Reagan proposed cutting something like 5 or 10% of the Interior Department's budget, and getting rid of a lot of the small parcels of parkland that no one visits and that have no unique ecology or real value. The US government owns something like 25% of the land area of the US directly, and Reagan's idea was to get rid of a lot of the bits that didn't actually have value. Because the smart thing to do is to let the bureaucrats who know the ins and outs of all of this land pick what would go, Reagan deferred to the bureaucrats at Interior for a list of lands to sell off or give away. For example, there is a "park" that consists of something like 350 square feet of land, between two private parcels of land, in the middle of the Nevada desert, that the government owns because of a surveying error when the land was originally titled. This "park" has to be inspected regularly (required by law and policy), and there are maintenance costs (because of access right of ways, if I'm remembering correctly). There is zero value to the government in owning this, so naturally it should be on a list of land to be gotten rid of, right? Nope. The top of the list of things to close if these budget cuts went into effect was the Washington Monument.

    Keep that in mind when the Air Force says 2/3 of its aircraft would be grounded in months. Note that they don't mention laying off the valets who serve the general officers, or closing golf courses for senior officers, or getting rid of some of the fleet of executive jets that the Air Force maintains. It's called a "gold watch" in the military, but it's basically identical to the Washington Monument defense.

  • Re:Monthly dance (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @12:17PM (#42980491)

    When the federal reserve is engaged in "quantitative easing" ie. flooding the bond market with cash, the government is in effect cratering the price. It may not be the treasury dept. do it but the fed and treasury often work together on economic policy.

    You might want to work on be slightly more informed.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban