Despite the last round of budget horrors, the CRA is optimistic about 2009. While I'd like to believe it, I'll believe it when I see it. The other good news is CDI seems to be going forward roughly as planned.
In an effort to spur further comments, I'll have to say I was disappointed by the discussion that accompanied my last pointer to the CRA blog. It seems we have a lot of self-deprecating sorts in our field who don't think what we do is important enough to be funded by the government. Even after the great successes of the last 20 years, many of which have ties both direct and indirect to government funding. I don't get it.
In my opinion, government's most important role is to do things for its citizens that individuals can't do adequately by themselves. That's why national defense is a government job. And so is basic research. Basic research is important for national defense, as well as for the economy -- both in national defense terms (the bigger/better our economy, the better our national defense), as well as for feeding the homeless (unless we keep moving forward and developing, there's going to be a lot more homeless to feed). For those who think that feeding/caring for the poor is more important than funding basic research, I'd ask 1) isn't it more efficient for charities/local organizations rather than the national government to do this (except in extreme, Katrina-like circumstances) and 2) where do you think the economic advancement that will keep the country going (so your kids aren't hungry or homeless) is going to come from?
Some comments were of the form "there are so many other things to be funded, why fund us?" (Let's say us means "computer science", though one could make the case for basic science more generally.) First, our success record is pretty darn good. (I'm confused by people who don't recognize that -- as if none of the work we've done has had an impact on the world.) Second, all the other sciences are becoming more computational; I believe Chazelle's riff that algorithms will increasingly become the language of science. Funding us should help all the sciences. Third, well, see the above paragraph.
So (and remember, following recent comments, I'm aiming to be "controversial" and "less nice"), I'll end on the following thought. Certainly, I do research because I enjoy it and am reasonably successful at it. But if I thought it wasn't actually important, I'd either go find a job that paid a lot more, or go find a job that I thought meant a lot more. I've known people that have done each of those. For those of you who really, honestly feel that CS research is mostly a waste -- and are still working in the area -- why are you still around?