"The purpose of the freeze is to evaluate each and every program, looking at which ones are worthwhile and which are a waste of taxpayer dollars," Ike Brannon, an economist and senior policy adviser to McCain, told the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation at a private gathering in Washington, D.C. The task force, a coalition of scientific and professional societies, had heard a more upbeat message in July from aides for Democratic Senator Barack Obama (IL), who has proposed doubling over 10 years the budgets of a host of U.S. science agencies.
McCain has expressed similar views to those of Obama in other venues, including support for "full funding" of the 2007 America COMPETES Act, which authorizes a 7-year doubling of the budgets of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (ScienceNOW, 3 August 2007). But Brannon said today that there's been no talk within the campaign of allowing any flexibility in the proposed freeze. It would be part of McCain's 2010 budget submission next spring to Congress for the fiscal year that begins in October 2009, should he defeat Obama in November.
"Senator McCain realizes that it's difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of basic research," Brannon told Science after the closed-door briefing. "But the freeze applies to the entire budget, most of which doesn't relate to science. He hopes to be able to find savings from earmarks, from unnecessary subsidies, and from other programs that could then be applied to research."
Here's a question I have never gotten an answer to, and why none of these so-called "journalists" ever asked these candidates. How come, whenever there is a fiscal issue, that domestic spending, and science spending in particular, is always the FIRST one to take the brunt of any freeze or cutbacks? I mean, if McCain is THAT concerned about earmarks and waste spending, how about the $14 billion that went missing in Iraq? If the whole philosophy here is to cut back wasteful spending, I'd say one might find the largest amount to save on by making a careful audit of the money that's flowing like water in this area. So how come the puny amount spend on scientific research gets the squeeze?
It has always been my impression that McCain has never paid any particular importance to science and scientific research. Obama doesn't put science that high on his agenda either, but McCain seems to almost ignore it completely to being a non-existent issue.