The Wall Street Journal online edition has an interesting article on the federal budget deficit and the President’s plan for overcoming it. Included is some info about the impact of appropriation cuts on the National Science Foundation and a good primer on the challenge facing the President and Congress in looking for other places to cut. But the one nugget that caught my eye was this:
For fiscal 2005, the growth in [non-defense] domestic spending was held to just 0.8%. At that rate, spending in this area will decline as a portion of the overall budget. Yet the president aims to shrink this piece even further. In February, Mr. Bush will call for a spending freeze for fiscal 2006, according to people familiar with administration’s deliberations. [emph. added]
No additional detail in the article, but this would obviously be a very bad thing for an agency like NSF, which saw it’s overall budget cut for FY 05. But it’s hard to know whether this means the President is hoping to hold the discretionary spending number even overall (which would mean NSF could grow as long as some other agency shrinks), or just a flat freeze on FY 06 numbers (ie, FY 05 = FY 06). In either case, this is yet another sign that FY 06 promises to be a very difficult one for science funding.