Some research cuts, particularly to the N.I.H., aren’t likely to make it past Congress. But they show Mr. Trump’s lack of understanding of science’s role in national and domestic security, in protecting air and water and other resources and in preventing disease and lowering the cost of health care, which consumes one-quarter of the $3.7 trillion federal budget.
Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist and biomedical research investor who is one of Mr. Trump’s few supporters in Silicon Valley, is an outspoken advocate for government-fostered science. A week before the election, he said: “Voters are tired of hearing conservative politicians say that government never works. They know the government wasn’t always this broken. The Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, and the Apollo program — whatever you think of these ventures, you cannot doubt the competence of the government that got them done. But we have fallen very far from that standard, and we cannot let free market ideology serve as an excuse for decline.”
That, however, is exactly what Mr. Trump’s budget does. In service to small-government ideology, it proposes to whack 18 percent from the N.I.H.’s budget, and even more from the Department of Energy and the E.P.A.’s science programs. A $250 million annual grant program administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “supporting coastal and marine management, research and education” would be killed, including programs that provide important resources to help coastal states prepare for the coming effects of climate change (no surprise there, since Mr. Trump doesn’t believe in climate change). The earth sciences division at NASA comes in for a 6 percent cut; other reductions take aim at the United States Geological Survey and the National Science Foundation, a big player in scientific research.
The cuts in human health programs have drawn the heaviest criticism. Mary Woolley, president of…