News FocusU.S. Science and Austerity

Fewer Dollars, Forced Choices

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Science  11 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6057, pp. 750-752
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6057.750

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Summary

With Congress committed to reducing the $1.5 trillion federal deficit, research agency budgets will likely be flat or declining for the foreseeable future, meaning the loss of thousands of jobs and grants and the delay or cancellation of numerous high-profile projects. But will Congress actually abide by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which caps discretionary spending at $1.043 trillion for the 2012 fiscal year and requires reducing the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years? The so-called Super Committee was formed to break the political gridlock: Republicans typically object to any tax hikes, and Democrats want to avoid cutting social programs. On other hand, nobody likes the idea of mandatory cuts, and there is talk of rewriting the rules. So far the panel has been unable to reach agreement on any plan, and time is running out.