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The Stimulus is Coming! The Stimulus is Coming! February 24, 2009

Posted by gordonwatts in politics.
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Wow – I never thought I’d see the day. I’m still sort-of looking around in disbelief. Did that really pass? Was there really funding in there for science!? The House always had it in there – there are some great friends of science in the House. For a while the senate had totally stripped it out of the stimulus package, and then some reappeared, but not all that much. When the bill went to conference – pow! Almost all of it came back! How nice is that?

But now starts the hard part, as WhatsNew notes:

4. STIMULUS: $21 BILLION OUT OF $787 BILLION FOR SCIENCE.

If we got that big a fraction of the total federal budget we wouldn’t know how to spend it, and we may not know how to spend this. It’s great news, but science can’t afford to screw up the allocation. Initially the bill ignored NSF completely; it wasn’t the science lobbyists that got the numbers up, it was Republican Sen. Arlen Specter almost single handedly.

Actually, considering how badly physical science funding has suffered over the past 15 years we will have no trouble. There is plenty of infrastructure at national labs that need immediate attention. And, as you might image, science is always bursting with new ideas. After a careful peer review, here’s to hoping some of these projects get funded!!

On a smaller scale I hope that some of this stimulus money will trickle down to university groups, like mine. If it did arrive at our doorstep it would almost immediately be spent on things like new computers (from Dell, for example), air plane tickets (on American carriers – as that is all you can use federal dollars for), and students and post-docs. I think that is a pretty good bang for the buck. I expect the equation is very similar for many other university groups in physics and chemistry and biology and computer science. A pretty good bang for the buck – and my vague understanding of economics tells me that the multiplier should be better than that for tax cuts!

Sorry. Just too happy about this.

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