Trump’s first list of science priorities ignores climate—and departs from his own budget request

Aug 18, 2017

By Jeffrey Mervis

President Donald Trump has translated his campaign promise to “make America great again” into his administration’s first blueprint for federal investment in science and technology.

The White House today issued a four-page memo telling federal agencies that their research dollars should be focused on delivering short-term dividends in strengthening national defense and border security, the economy, and “energy dominance,” as well as improving public health. It says achieving those goals should not require additional spending, and that agencies should focus primarily on basic science, and then step aside as quickly as possible to let industry pursue any results that show commercial promise.

The memo, written jointly by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), is an annual reminder of the administration’s research priorities sent to agencies before they submit their next budget request. Those requests are due next month for the 2019 fiscal year that starts in October 2018. (Congress has yet to act on the budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins 1 October; most observers expect lawmakers to extend current spending levels well into the new fiscal year.)

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14 comments on “Trump’s first list of science priorities ignores climate—and departs from his own budget request

  • Yayish! I suspect real failure and disgrace is a prospect for Trump. We might see a lot more de-mavericking.

    Having done this much damage so far I’m almost in two minds about having him patch things up…



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  • @OP – The White House today issued a four-page memo

    I suppose 4 pages is longer than a Twiiter post, so that may be taxing the president’s concentration span!

    Innovate UK: Delivery Plan 2016 to 2017-PDF, 727KB, 32 pages

    telling federal agencies that their research dollars
    should be focused on delivering short-term dividends in strengthening national defense and border security,

    I think Trump has already illustrated his “skills” at defence planning, diplomacy, and border security!!

    the economy, and “energy dominance,”

    Ah! That should be good! 🙂
    Taking the lead on innovative sustainable energy back from China, while denying and censoring references climate change!

    as well as improving public health.

    Ah the benefits of Trump-Care replacing Obamacare – an obvious source of “GREAT Trump-speak ‘improvement’ “!

    It says achieving those goals should not require additional spending,

    Trumponomics???

    and that agencies should focus primarily on basic science,

    Coming from the White house, I think that would be “alternative” basic science! – None of that hard-to-understand, advanced innovative frontier stuff or complex mathematics!

    and then step aside as quickly as possible to let industry pursue any results that show commercial promise.

    I’m sure the coal industry, the arms manufactures, and corporate health insurance, will be delighted to hear that!!

    After all, – those darned scientists have a habit of indulging in follow-up monitoring of industrial processes, – reporting findings and profit-killing problems! 🙂



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  • I get the “Urban Audubon” newsletter. I read this this morning:

    The former EPA administrator Judith Enck resigned when Trump took office.

    “Trump’s environmental policies will be devastating to NYC, particularly with regard to climate change.” 97 percent of scientists agree that carbon pollution is caused by human actions. “But the astonishing EPA administrator, Pruitt, is not convinced of the science, and filed 24 lawsuits against the EPA as Oklahoma Attorney General.”

    Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, wants to roll back the Clean Power Plan, wants to roll back fuel efficiency standards for cars. Carbon pollution will continue unabated.

    “What does that mean for birds? ‘You will see different migration patterns interfering with nesting. Violent weather will threaten entire populations. National Audubon scientists reckon that climate change threatens the survival of over 300 bird species. […] “The White House budget calls for a cut of 31 percent of the overall EPA budget (30 percent for cleanups, and half of all the EPA’s science work.) EPA grants to states would be slashed by 44 percent.'”

    “Call members of Congress every day,” she said. “Convince them to fight against the cuts.”

    Sickening. Pathetic and sickening.



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  • phil rimmer #6
    Aug 20, 2017 at 5:56 am

    He desperately needs economic results from “policy”

    Well! – He got a simplistic result here!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40982025

    US stocks regained ground on Friday, after it was confirmed President Donald Trump’s polarising adviser Steve Bannon would depart the White House.

    He also supported some of Mr Trump’s more radical economic positions.

    Cheering broke out on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as news of Mr Bannon’s exit spread.



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  • @OP – Trump’s first list of science priorities ignores climate—and departs from his own budget request

    However, the climate is likely to ignore Trump, and impose its own budget priorities, as storms power-up on a warmer ocean and atmosphere, and floods and droughts increase!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/08/hurricane-harvey-why-is-it-so-extreme/

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/09/hurricane-irmas-epic-size-is-being-fueled-by-global-warming/

    A lack of research and preparation, is very likely to increase the costs of damage, rebuilding and general disruption of lives!



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  • @OP – The White House today issued a four-page memo telling federal agencies that their research dollars should be focused on delivering short-term dividends in strengthening national defense and border security, the economy, and “energy dominance,” as well as improving public health.

    Ah! that “great” pseudo-science of short-termist Trumponomics!

    Meanwhile – using REAL science – over a period of YEARS:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41162534

    A national study shows that R&D grants to firms significantly boost growth and create jobs.

    Grants totalling £8bn led to growth worth £43bn and created around 150,000 jobs.

    Prof Stephen Roper, from the Warwick Business School and director of the Enterprise Research Centre, led the research. He said it was the first time that such a detailed analysis had been undertaken.

    “Our study is the first time we have been able to do a comprehensive assessment across the whole gamut of science support provided by a UK public sector for companies,” he told BBC News.

    “It shows very clearly that grants to support R&D have a positive impact, creating jobs and fuelling growth in the hi-tech, high value-added sectors that the UK must encourage to remain competitive on the world stage.”

    Prof Roper and his colleagues tracked 15,000 hi-tech firms which received government R&D grants.
    It found that on average these firms employed 23% more people after six years compared with firms that did not receive grants. Turnover grew by 28% and productivity by 6% over the same period.

    The biggest growth in both employment and turnover occurred among manufacturing firms. The impact seems to be particularly large for the least productive companies. Smaller companies also benefitted more from the grants.

    Job creation was strongest in London, the South East and the North West. The turnover of firms increased most in Scotland, Yorkshire and London.

    A large proportion of the extra money will be for grants to invite collaborative projects between hi-tech firms and academic researchers. This will be partly funnelled through the so-called industrial strategy challenge fund, which aims to support key growth sectors including medicines, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), clean energy and driverless vehicles.

    The new study though suggests that the policy of picking winners could work if it is properly targeted, according to Prof Roper.

    “We get significantly larger growth effects in manufacturing than in services and among smaller firms than larger firms. And so we may want to try and pick winners but pick winners within those groups or emphasise those groups a little bit more.

    “So rather than backing national champions we should be looking to the next generation of national champions – small, promising, up-and-coming businesses that have the potential to scale up. It is those we should be supporting.”



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  • Interesting, Alan. This is exactly as it seems to me. I think in the UK we are actually quite good at early state investing in the latent talent of our inventors, makers and doers. I’ve seen it from both sides of the fence and I think we are a long way from saturation. We still need plenty more new business opportunities to alter our unattractive skew in favour of arms manufacture, for instance.



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  • Don’t Buy The Spin.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-tax-plan-20170927-story.html

    Don’t buy the spin. Judging from the scanty details in the framework, low- and middle-income Americans may or may not see a tax cut, and if they do, it will be modest. Wealthy Americans, however, will be granted immense benefits. Their most cherished tax breaks will be protected, other tax breaks will be added and they’ll even see a reduction in their top marginal tax rate.

    It’s a bit premature for tax analysts to put hard numbers on the scale of the giveaways in the outline just released, and especially difficult given the lack of details. Most of the crucial information will be left to tax-writing committees on Capitol Hill. But we know what the upper crust hoped to see in the tax plan, and it’s obvious that much of its wish list has been granted.



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