If the “fiscal cliff” scenario happens? My current guess is that if the Cliff does kick in on January 1, it’ll create complete havoc inside the Federal government and then will be quickly resolved (possibly at the cost of a credit downgrade) by a further kicking of the can down the road. This regardless who wins the election–I’m beginning to be convinced that either a re-elected or lame duck Obama administration may see the expiration of Bush tax cuts as a strategically good move no matter the chaos…and the GOP in a lame duck session wont be able to do a thing about it.
None of this is good for NIH or NSF. Because the fiscal cliff cuts are across the board, they are mindless (remember, the cliff was supposed to be a deterrent) so the excellent will get thrown out with the merely good.
The DOD contractors have been lobbying intensely about the Cliff for some time now. The problem though: avoiding the cliff requires something qualitatively different from the political paralysis that has become the norm on the Hill.
If aspects of the Cliff are removed in the new Congress: expect a trade on tax cuts for restoration of DOD funding. I have a hard time seeing NIH and NSF being part of that deal. So worst case: road kill on a bridge to nowhere.