White House Strikes Back at GOP Budget

The 2013 spending plan that Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) has proposed is expected to be approved next week by the House of Representatives, where Republicans enjoy a majority of seats. But it seems unlikely to go any further in Congress. Still, the Obama Administration considers the conservative agenda it espouses to be enough of a threat to bring out the big guns today.

Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeffrey Zients took pot shots on his blog at how Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, says he would shrink the trillion-dollar federal deficit. Most of the fighting will be waged over proposed changes to the nation's tax code and funding for such megaprograms as Medicare and defense. But Zients also looked at the possible implications for federally funded research.

Zients had to make a few assumptions because, as we noted yesterday, the Republican plan doesn't allocate money for specific agencies, much less individual programs within those agencies. But assuming that a 10-year, $897-billion cut "would be distributed equally across the budget," Zients lays out this scary scenario for the research community:

Investments in science, medical research, space, and technology would be cut by more than $100 billion over the next decade. The number of new grants from NIH for promising research projects would shrink by more than 1,600 in 2014 and by over 16,000 over a decade, potentially curtailing or slowing research to fight Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and AIDS. The National Science Foundation would cut over 11,000 grants over the next decade, eliminating support for over 13,000 researchers, students, and teachers in 2014 alone.

The Department of Education would be cut by more than $115 billion over a decade. 9.6 million students would see their Pell Grants fall by more than $1000 in 2014, and, over the next decade, over one million students would lose support altogether. This would derail bipartisan education reforms and deeply undermine K-12 education and college opportunity.

Clean energy programs would be cut by 19 percent over the next decade, derailing efforts to put a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, retrofit residential homes to save energy and consumers money, and make the commercial building sector 20 percent more efficient by 2022.