McCain Freeze Would Chill Science

Next year’s federal budget may not contain a penny more for research and education if Republican Senator John McCain (AZ) is elected U.S. president and has his way with Congress. That fiscal message that was sober was delivered by an aide to the McCain campaign now to science lobbyists, who pressed him for leeway in the candidate’s promise to restrain federal spending by demanding a 1-year halt on domestic discretionary spending.

“The purpose of the halt would be to assess every single plan, 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 in a personal gathering in Washington, D.C. The task force, a coalition of scientific and professional societies, had heard a more cheerful 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 bureaus.