House Votes to Defund Political Science Program: The Irony, It Burns

From the Monkey Cage this morning:

The Flake amendment Henry wrote about appears to have passed the House last night with a 218-208 vote. The amendment prohibits funding for NSF’s political science program, which among others funds many valuable data collection efforts including the National Election Studies. No other program was singled out like this…This is obviously not the last word on this. The provision may be scrapped in the conference committee (Sara?). But it is clear that political science research is in real danger of a very serious setback.

There’s real irony here in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives voting to defund a political-science program at a time when the Department of Defense and “intelligence community” are apparently increasing spending on similar work. With things like the Minerva Initiative, the Political Instability Task Force (on which I worked for 10 years), ICEWS, and IARPA’s Open Source Indicators programs, the parts of the government concerned with protecting national security seem to find growing value in social-science research and are spending accordingly. Meanwhile, the party that claims to be the stalwart defender of national security pulls in the opposite direction, like the opposing head on Dr. Doolittle’s Pushmi-pullyu. Nice work, fellas.

Leave a comment


  1. Nick

     /  May 14, 2012

    You mean the Jeff Flake who has a MA in Political Science? (I’ve observed that there are two types of political science graduate students: those who seek to understand social phenomena in order to play a role in improving social welfare, and those who seek to understand the nuts and bolts of the political system in order to WIN.)

    This NSF stunt is part and parcel of a long trend of targeting the margins of the U.S. budget ( and introducing legislation to preempt mythical federal overreach. These activities don’t address the deficit problem. They win him votes. And he’s running for Sen. Kyl’s seat…

    btw, Ezra Klein just weighed in (a lengthy comment thread follows), and Flake responds on Facebook:

  2. Nick

     /  May 14, 2012

    Sorry, just saw that The Monkey Cage has continued to be all over this 🙂

  1. Your weekly post on higher education -

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