The announcement of an increase in funding for basic research in the US is encouraging. There is some discussion of this at the Computing Research Policy blog.
One part of this discussion has a graph of NSF funding over time, presumably in dollar budgets. I don’t believe that dollar budgets are the right way to judge the impact of funding changes on researchers. A better way to judge seems to be in terms of dollar budget divided by GDP which provides a measure of the relative emphasis on research.
This graph was assembled by dividing the NSF budget by the US GDP. For 2005 GDP, I used the current estimate and for 2006 and 2007 assumed an increase by a factor of 1.04 per year. The 2007 number also uses the requested 2007 budget which is certain to change.
This graph makes it clear why researchers were upset: research funding emphasis has fallen for 3 years in a row. The reality has been significantly more severe due to DARPA decreasing funding and industrial research labs (ATnT and Lucent for example) laying off large numbers of researchers about when the governments emphasis on basic research started declining.
It is certainly encouraging to see the emphasis on science growing again.