Blame Where Blame Is Due

A lot of people have commented on this New York Times article on science budgets, mostly echoing the author’s lament about the negative effects of operating at 2006 funding levels. I really don’t have much to add to that, but it’s worth reminding people where the blame for this belongs:

Last year, Congress passed just 2 of 11 spending bills — for the military and domestic security — and froze all other federal spending at 2006 levels. Factoring in inflation, the budgets translate into reductions of about 3 percent to 4 percent for most fields of science and engineering.

Congressional Democrats said last month that they would not try to finish multiple spending bills left hanging by the departed Republican majority and would instead keep most government agencies operating under their current budgets until next fall. Except for the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, the government is being financed under a stopgap resolution. It expires Feb. 15, and Democrats said they planned to extend a similar resolution through Sept. 30.

(emphasis added). Let’s be perfectly clear on this: there is a science funding crunch because the outgoing Republican majority made a deliberate decision not to pass budget bills, basically in a fit of pique. This is the legislative equivalent of a foot-stamping tantrum, a deeply childish attempt to make life difficult for the Democrats. If anyone in the Republican party retains the ability to feel shame, this would be the appropriate moment.