Back in March, the Penn Political Review did an interview with Newt Gingrich. We found this exchange within the Q and A:
PPR: There has been a fairly recent GOP initiative to cut wasteful government spending, and one of those cuts has been to the National Science Foundation. Penn is a research university, and some of its research funding has thus been cut. Why go after the NSF?
NG: I personally wouldn’t. When I was Speaker of the House, while balancing the budget, we doubled the size of the National Institutes of Health and I said since then the biggest mistake we made was not tripling NSF at the same time. I think one of the major functions of government should be basic research and a continuous effort to expand our understanding of science and technology. I think it’s highly ironic people who use the internet explain how they’re opposed to the government doing things, because the government invented the internet.
Newt makes a decent point about the importance of science, but his love for the NSF might be misplaced. Presumably, if NSF's budget were tripled, we'd get three times as many shrimp on treadmills, three times as much jello wrestling, and three times as much porn surfing -- or at least that's the impression left by a new report on government waste at the NSF released by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
The shrimp marathon training was the product of a $3 million research grant. The jello wrestling party was had by Antarctic NSF researchers, who along with their Arctic counterparts depend on taxpayers for nearly half a billion dollars annually. The porn surfing is a chronic problem at NSF. You can read more about all three in Coburn's report.