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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Trump resets government research

President Trump is doing something no Republican president has dared do since Reagan. He actually is reversing bad governance -- quietly.

Danny Vinik of Politico noticed the Trump administration has changed the government's research priorities.

Out is climate change.

In is treating drug addiction. You know, an actual problem.

From Vinik:
Every year, the government funds billions of dollars in research, from large National Institutes of Health grants to small housing experiments. The sheer magnitude of money gives the government great influence over the direction of research across industries, a hidden lever for a sophisticated administration to guide the country well into the future.
This week, the Trump administration revealed that it intends to use that lever. The Office of Management and Budget, led by Director Mick Mulvaney, published a four-page memo — dated August 27 — that lays out the administration’s research and development priorities for fiscal 2019, which includes a focus on military technologies, border security and treatments for drug addiction. In a break from the Obama administration’s efforts to combat climate change, there is almost no mention of environmental research, with the exception of one reference to renewable energy. The memo also directs agencies to focus on early stage research and, in a bolded section, strongly recommends the use of quantitative data to evaluate any R&D investments, terminating those in which “federal involvement is no longer needed or appropriate.”
The real-world effects of such a memo won’t be immediately apparent. Research projects generally operate on a multiyear time frame, so the White House can’t just shift the direction of federal R&D overnight. But these priorities can eventually have big policy implications as researchers focus on certain issues and ignore others. That assumes, of course, that there is actual R&D funding to disburse for research — and if Trump has his way, that may not be the case. The White House has proposed huge cuts to research programs, rolling back federal non-defense R&D by almost 20 percent. Republicans and Democrats alike have rejected those cuts, so they will not become law. While that may be disappointing to a fiscal conservative like Mulvaney, it does help the administration in one sense: More R&D money gives agencies greater influence over the direction of American research.
This is just one of the many things under the radar that Trump accomplished. He's replacing judges with real conservatives, rolling back regulations, and reducing staff at regulatory agencies -- and the Department of State.

Trump is loud and talkative.

And guess what? His actions speak far louder than his words.


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  1. The federal government should limit its research funding to national security projects and let the free market fund everything else. I would include fusion research because energy independence is a national security objective. - Elric

  2. I still want the US to stop funding (among other things) NPR, PBS, Nat'l Endowment for the Arts, Nat'l Endowment for the Humanities, and the UN.
    Also remove the requirement that one-half of one percent of estimated construction cost of each new federal building to commission project artists (GSA Art in Architecture).

  3. Don, I'd say you told the enemedia what Trump's doing, but we know they don't read dissenting views.

  4. If Nixon had've grown his hair long back in the day, all those hippies wouldve gone skinhead.

    You just know that if Trump came out and said he was now a global warming believer, all the Gaia cultists would restart that Carter era new ice age dreck.

  5. I looked up some numbers the other day. Over one third of federal employees hired prior to 2015 will be eligible to retire by 2020. Some agencies, like EPA, it is near 50%.

    Eligible doesn't mean will, but then many may instead of implementing Trump's agenda. And if he gets a 2nd term....

    Trump may reshape the entire federal workforce ....quietly

  6. From Dwight Eisenhower's "Farewell Address", the one where he warned of the military-industrial complex:

    "Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

  7. The Nat. Science Foundation is deep into the climate change ripoff and badly needs a haircut, along with NOAA and NASA and some others. When old feds retire, just eliminate the positions.

  8. I love this! Stop wasting my tax dollars on trivia!

    Mick Mulvaney used to be my Congressman. The only downside to his being the OMB director is that he is o longer my Congressman. Too bad we can't clone him.

  9. Long range climate forecasting only vaguely resembles science anyway. The goddam Farmer's Almanac has a better accuracy record.

  10. The long-range US government climate models have given us results about as accurate and valuable as flipping a coin -- at the low low cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Junk science and a complete ripoff.