As we are all looking into a future free of attack-ads (for the next three years - give or take a few months) there are several things that are heartening about the incoming administration and the future of R&D in these here United States.
Just as a disclaimer, I am freely citing the Obama-Biden campaign's plan on these issues (link) and am adding my own two cents to it. One statement is particularly heartening: Invest in the Sciences: Barack Obama and Joe Biden support doubling federal funding for basic research over ten years, changing the posture of our federal government from being one of the most antiscience administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology. This will foster home-grown innovation, help ensure the competitiveness of U.S. technology-based businesses, and ensure that 21st century jobs can and will grow in America.
I am all for that, and I hope the incoming administration finds a way to level out the economy and start growth again. Growth can and will come from the investment in research and development. That neatly seques into the second point I want to emphasize from the technoloy plan: Invest in University-Based Research: Barack Obama and Joe Biden strongly support expanding research initiatives at American colleges and universities. The U.S. faces a challenge in funding younger researchers. Obama and Biden will provide new research grants to the most outstanding early-career researchers in the country.
Is there an increase in the NIH/NSF/DOE budget in sight? One would hope so, at least in terms of matching inflation because nongovernmental funding organizations are tightening their belts as well. After all, where does a fund like the Howard Hughes Foundation keep its money - that's right, in the markets.
Bottom line, it's going to get better meaning more money for science and development but not in 2009, I am hoping for a matching of the inflation rate in terms of increases with a strong uptick in 2010.
Last but not least you gotta love the last part of the statement and how it contrasts with the last eight years of scientific ambiguity (to put it nicely) in the White House: “Restore Scientific Integrity to the White House: Obama and Biden will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees.