Re: Welcome to 21st Century USA
The picture you paint is not entirely correct. Long-term, the US science and technology expenditures have been growing in the absolute value. They did stagnate over the past 20 years, however - even if they stagnated at the levels higher than we've ever seen. What is troubling is that these expenditures have been falling steadily as a fraction of the GDP - so that by now, the US is barely making the top-10 in the world by this criterion. What it also very troubling is that military R&D consistently dominates the federal research expenditures, even though the US has not faced an existential threat for 25 years now, and operates primarily against low-tech opponents militarily.
If one digs just a little deeper (see Historical Trends in Federal R&D - an excellent dataset prepares by the AAAS), you will see that while the R&D is steadily decreasing as a fraction of the total US budget, it actually holds steady at about 10% of the discretionary spending, with by now more than 50% of the total budget going into the non-discretionary programs - mostly Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid[*], and interest payments on the ever-growing national debt. Thus, it appears that both the Congress and the administration remain consistentently in favour of R&D spending, regardless of the party being in control - however, the pie they are cutting is getting smaller and smaller.
At least to me it looks like the path to the meaningful, lasting improvement of scientific and educational funding in the US lies through a complete overhaul of the social support and health-care system - something which was clearly needed for at least two generations now. At this point, the need to do something is becoming critical - but, given the political climate in the US ove the past 20 years, it is not going to happen until the country is literally broke.
[*] For most non-USAians, it is often shoking to see how much the US spends on the publicly-funded health care and social security, despite having neither the universal health care nor a meaningful social safety net.