Presidential hopeful Ron Paul's new proposal to slash federal spending would wipe out large chunks of the government's research portfolio.
The congressman from Texas and Republican candidate unveiled a budget plan  yesterday to reduce the deficit that would eliminate five federal departments: Energy, Commerce, Interior, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. In one fell swoop, such a step would erase, among other programs, the Energy Department's $5-billion Office of Science, the $4.5-billion National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the $750-million National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the $1.1-billion U.S. Geological Survey.
Paul would also end funding for all research programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, although the department itself would be preserved at its current budget. And he would pare roughly $7 billion from the current $30-billion budget for the National Institutes of Health within the Department of Health and Human Services. The document, "A Plan to Restore America," is silent on the fate of two independent research agencies: the $7-billion National Science Foundation, and NASA, whose $18.5-billion budget includes $5 billion for space science.
"The plan promises to restore the federal government to its former Constitutionally-limited, smaller-government and less-burdensome place," according to a press release from Paul's campaign headquarters. "The plan cuts $1 trillion in federal spending during the first year of a Paul Presidency and delivers a balanced budget in year three of a Paul Presidency." The biggest savings would come from ending funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and holding steady spending across the entire Department of Defense.