After years of enduring spending caps in the scientific arena, scientists rejoiced at the news of President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal. Totaling approximately $4 trillion, the president’s proposal specifically outlined funding to further the cause of clean energy, biomedical sciences, and space exploration.
An increase of more than 6% over last year, 2016’s budget for scientific research and initiatives totals $146 billion.
Scientific Development in 2016
If President Obama’s budget proposal is approved without amendment, there will be significant benefits for the scientific community. Listed in the proposed budget, the following agencies were identified as candidates:
NASA: With a proposed budget increase of $500 million, NASA’s earth science programs would receive a much needed upgrade to support satellite mapping of land use and land cover over time. Termed Landsat-9, the project’s goal would be to track and monitor land-level changes on the earth’s surface. Other initiatives, such as a $30 million trip to one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, was also requested by the agency and included in the president’s budget proposal.
NIH (National Institutes of Health): The president’s proposed budget also allocates funds to further public health initiatives, such as inhibiting the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, to be carried out through the National Institutes of Health. Receiving one of the largest proposed increases, efforts to fight antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections would benefit from a 50% boost over last year’s budget, for a total of $1.2 billion.
DOE (Department of Energy) & EPA (Environmental Protection Agency): Efforts to perfect clean energy practices and reduce climate change are on the forefront of scientific innovation, and President Obama allocated a 6% increase to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to maintain progress in this area. Additionally, the Department of Energy would receive $800 million to further clean vehicle technology and manufacturing initiatives if the 2016 budget proposal is accepted. A total of nearly $1.5 billion is being proposed to further fossil fuel research.
NSF (National Science Foundation): The NSF, representing many of the country’s scientific research initiatives, would also receive a budgetary increase in 2016 per President Obama’s proposal. Overall, the agency’s budget would receive a 5% increase, enabling it to continue the BRAIN project and contribute to cross-disciplinary research.
These four agencies alone would have the resources needed to fuel progress and create practical solutions to the ongoing energy, health, and climate crises. Other agencies nominated to receive a funding increase include the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Centers for Disease Control, the latter being a key player in the fight against Ebola.
Other Budgetary Priorities
In addition to science initiatives, President Obama’s budget proposal includes fiscal emphasis on road and infrastructure improvements, enhanced national commerce, and work force development. Ultimately, the president hopes to strengthen America’s ability to compete as a world leader, but from the inside out. Proposed funding sources include taxes on wealth stored overseas by American companies as well as individuals earning more than $250,000 a year.
Only Time Will Tell
While party members on both sides of the aisle must come to an agreement on the proposed items, President Obama’s proactive move to boost funding for scientific research and development is a step in the right direction. As the New York Times reported, the president’s proposed budget would add more than $5.5 trillion to the national deficit in the next ten years, but would reduce the nation’s debt by 1.7%.
For now, the battle for the budget will continue in DC, but scientists are hopeful that their days of austerity will soon be over.
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