Congress, NASA

How would a government shutdown affect NASA?

The current continuing resolution that funds the federal government, including NASA, expires in less than a week: midnight on Friday, March 4. Unless Congress can agree to a new funding bill, be it a full FY11 appropriations act, as the House passed last week with HR 1, or another short-term stopgap bill, the federal government will be shut down—just as NASA is wrapping up the STS-133 shuttle mission to the ISS.

For the mission itself, a shutdown would have little or no impact. “For the mission that’s flying we’d probably consider most of the folks mission critical personnel, and that’s pretty much transparent to us,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for space operations, in the STS-133 post-launch press conference late Thursday (skip ahead to the 17:50 mark to catch the question from Craig Covault and Gerstermaier’s response.) “I think from a top-level standpoint we’ll be able to just press on and continue kind of the way we’re heading.”

How it might affect preparations for the final two shuttle missions is less clear. “We’ll kind of see what happens. We haven’t really done any detailed contingency planning yet,” Gerstermaier said of the agency’s overall planning.

While a shutdown might not affect the current shuttle mission or ISS operations, much of the rest of the agency might be severely affected. The AP report that during the last government shutdown, in the mid-1990s, only seven percent of NASA employees were at work. It’s not clear whether that percentage would be higher, or even lower, if there’s a government shutdown down in a week, but it’s likely a lot of activities would not be deemed “mission critical” and thus put on hold until a new appropriations bill is passed.

46 comments to How would a government shutdown affect NASA?

  • Robert G. Oler

    A government shutdown will probably kill the LON (finally) from ever flying…but more important then that will be who is perceived to have “won” in a government shutdown.

    that will affect how funding happens. Robert

  • DCSCA

    Probably as not much as you’d think. Vividly recall watching NASA Select during the last ‘ government shutdown’ as there was a shuttle mission in progress and the cleaning crews were still emptying wastebaskets in the control center so what was considered ‘essential services’ continued- meanwhile the tourists visiting the NASM in Washington, the Smithsonian and other landmarks were all shuttered.

  • …but more important then that will be who is perceived to have “won” in a government shutdown.

    During this past election it was said that was one of the TEA/Republican Party goals, to shut down the government as to stop Obama and his “Bolshevik” policies.

    As Charlie Brown would say, “Good Grief.”

  • NASA Fan

    Not gonna happen

  • common sense

    It is unbelievable that Congress might be okay to shut down the government in such a moment of needs from the US people. Look at their benefits…

    Talk about NASA!

    It’s like a nightmare but you just can’t wake up.

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm

    “Rank-and-File Members:
    The current salary (2011) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.”

  • Bennett

    Not gonna happen

    I wouldn’t bet my house on it.

  • Frank Glover

    If there’s a better argument for more commercial manned space, I’m waiting for it…

  • Aberwys

    The talk of a government shutdown is the clamour that is often necessary in these matters to get enough motivation to avert it.

    If someone didn’t tell you you’d get cavities if you kept eating candy bars all day and didn’t brush your teeth, you’d just keep eating candy bars and not brush your teeth.

    A little panic about the consequences can lead to positive action.

  • amightywind

    It is unbelievable that Congress might be okay to shut down the government in such a moment of needs from the US people.

    It is even more unbelievable that state representatives have gone AWOL and are collecting a paycheck, all while ignoring the will of the people to prop up the despised public unions. Let the government shut down for as long as it takes to convince the left that the Tea Party means business when it comes to cutting spending. There will be little effect on NASA. They aren’t engaged in any meaningful activity anyway. One assumes that they will keep the lights at mission control. One hopes that after a furlough government employees will lose pay during that period.

  • NASA Fan

    @ Bennett;

    Given the collapse of the housing market, trust me, I have no fear of betting my house on this!

    Besides: both sides come out looking like losers, so it ain’t gonna happen.
    They will extend the CR for a few more weeks, then iron out a deal for the remainder of the year.

  • GuessWho

    CS – “It is unbelievable that Congress might be okay to shut down the government in such a moment of needs from the US people.”

    What is unconscionable is that the current administration is proposing a $3.82T budget outlay for 2012 when revenues will only total $2.17T leaving the US taxpayer with a single year deficit of $1.65 Trillion dollars. With all due respect, a $61B reduction in this year amounts to less than 1.6% of the 2012 budget request and only a 3.7% reduction in the 2012 deficit number. This paltry sum represents the demise of the US according to Dems enough so that they refuse to even debate the proposed CR proposed by the party that won a landslide election from the US voters and which the President has stated he will veto. The GOP leads the House precisely because they ran on a promise to stop Govt. growth and the US voter resonated with that message. The Admin/Dems are tone deaf to the US voter. If a Govt. shutdown is needed to beat this message into the heads of the Dems and Obama, so be it. With all due respect to space advocates (of which I am one), NASA is a round-off error in this larger discussion.

  • CharlesHouston

    People see the leaves but fail to recognize the forest! Right now, the government space program is eroding at a rapid pace, as many laid off workers find other jobs. Many have been holding on, waiting for a Federal budget to be signed so that jobs will be available. With the long periods of uncertainty, with the turmoil over the budget, with more reliable employers available – the shutdown (even the serious threat of one) – is another “evacuate” alarm to them.

    Supposedly, one of these days the government will be certifying commercial spacecraft. With it’s aging civil service work force, perhaps? The government will be developing the MPCV (it is in the signed Authorization!!), etc. Will the workforce be there? Or will they hire lots of fresh outs and start the training process? Where will be corporate knowledge, the “gray beards” be?

  • Bennett

    @ NASA Fan,

    Hah, too true! There are a lot of folks that would love to lose their house on a bet, so long as the winner took over the debt with the house…

    I may not have done everything right, but I never took out a second mortgage on my place.

  • DCSCA

    @NASA Fan wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 1:35 pm
    Didn’t think it would happen the last time but it did and ‘essentiual government services’ didn’t suffer. A shuttle mission was on orbit at the time and it kept on flying – NASA didn’t go dark– but museums and parks did and a lot of vacations were screwed up.

  • Robert G. Oler

    GuessWho wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    “What is unconscionable is that the current administration is proposing a $3.82T budget outlay for 2012 when revenues will only total $2.17T leaving the US taxpayer with a single year deficit of $1.65 Trillion dollar”

    almost as bad as the GOP which will more or less go along with that number and yet refuses to raise taxes on the uber rich, the very people whose tax cut got us into this mess (along with the various Bush wars) and whose lack of productivity is part of the problem with the economy.

    One cannot have it both ways. ONe cannot dislike uncontrolled spending and then get on and shill for a space effort Cx that was nothing more then a gift to various corporations who on their own could not produce a competitive “rocket” or “spacecraft” that had a chance of doing anything productive…and then run away and say “but its only a tiny bit of spending”.

    Cx is like the Iraq war and tax cuts for the uber rich…it is really nothing more then GOP efforts to transfer tax dollars from future generations to mostly corporations.The protest in Iraq NOW say it all “No oil for Haliburton”…which is why we went to Iraq.

    We did Cx to funnel money to space corporations like ATK that left alone couldnt compete in the commercial market if you held a gun to their head.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    CharlesHouston wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    in the words of the Speaker of the House “so be it”.

    the current space program has to “die” to allow a new way of doing things to emerge. change is hard on everyone.

    What I find sort of a hoot with the situation at NASA is taht all the civil servants and contractors who are “god fearing republicans” and really look down on people who get government assistance or are the first to babble on about government spending…are now caught in their own rhetoric.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @GuessWho wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    “What is unconscionable is that the current administration is proposing a $3.82T budget outlay for 2012 when revenues will only total $2.17T leaving the US taxpayer with a single year deficit of $1.65 Trillion dollars.”

    This is a partisan shortcut to what happened since 2007 or even since 2001. Please.

    “With all due respect, a $61B reduction in this year amounts to less than 1.6% of the 2012 budget request and only a 3.7% reduction in the 2012 deficit number.”

    $61B as I already said is just for theatrics. Nothing more, nothing less. Why do we not cut the farm bill for crying out loud? That’d be a start. Then DoD but I mean real cuts not the cuts that get reinstated with the next dish of pork when the feel-good days come back. There is a lot more to taking care of the deficit than $61B cuts. Is this supposed to help us with social security? Or medicare? Come on!! If I were the WH I’d take the $61B cut and throw it at their face, negligently saying they can do better. That when they come back with a smart, intelligent way to fix our deficit then I’ll sign. Not rhetorical partisan nonsense.

    “This paltry sum represents the demise of the US according to Dems enough so that they refuse to even debate the proposed CR proposed by the party that won a landslide election from the US voters and which the President has stated he will veto. The GOP leads the House precisely because they ran on a promise to stop Govt. growth and the US voter resonated with that message. The Admin/Dems are tone deaf to the US voter. If a Govt. shutdown is needed to beat this message into the heads of the Dems and Obama, so be it.”

    I do not agree it a Dems issue. You want to make it a partisan issue when the GOPers ran us into this abyss during at least GWB. But hey I’ll give you it already started under Clinton. The major difference is that Clinton knew how to run the country and there was no deficit. A surplus. The idiots (note plural please) in Congress and the following GWB administration thought it was candy and used it to the bone. Well there is not even a bone left.

    “With all due respect to space advocates (of which I am one), NASA is a round-off error in this larger discussion.”

    Well here we do agree. But government shutdown I think implicates a little more than NASA now does it not? And those people if they can be called people still make an average $174K/yr when other real people are sent to the street to find a job that does not exist. And the job does not exist in large part not because the taxes are too high (what a moronic excuse) but because the banks and other purse holders are not investing. Call it a market correction if you like. The money exists the money is not being used. If I can find a peon to work the jobs of 2 people why would I hire another peon? Philanthropy?

    I would hope that people take their heads out of the sand (box) and try hard to find solutions. Remember nature likes the lowest state of energy for stability. This chaos will eventually end for sure. But it can end in many different ways.

    And whatever it is you do in life, NASA or otherwise, don’t think you are immune. You are not.

  • Coastal Ron

    CharlesHouston wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    …with more reliable employers available…

    I don’t know about you, but I always followed my own career path, not one laid out by an employer. If that meant changing employers, then so be it.

    My advice for someone that works in government that has an opportunity to take an interesting private sector job is GO FOR IT.

    Not because of the budget situation, because every October there is always a budget crisis of one sort or another, and it affects the private sector as well as direct government employees.

    They should go for it if it means a better career path, or better pay, or that it’s just more interesting – you know, the normal reasons to change employers.

    Supposedly, one of these days the government will be certifying commercial spacecraft. With it’s aging civil service work force, perhaps?

    Contrary to your belief, NASA is not made up of people that are 55 years old.

    The government will be developing the MPCV (it is in the signed Authorization!!), etc. Will the workforce be there?

    This is a pretty silly statement. Has the capsule workforce been there for the last 40 years since we last built Apollo? No, but competent engineers continue to be around. And capsules are not really very complicated, especially when compared with fighters, submarines and such. Keep some perspective here.

    Where will be corporate knowledge, the “gray beards” be?

    The corporate knowledge continues to be with the corporations like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, ATK, OSC, SNC, SpaceX and all the other companies that are involved with the non-government aerospace industry.

    I guess I don’t see “the sky is falling” type stuff happening. Life will continue.

    Just out of curiosity, what field of work are you in? Mine has been manufacturing, both in commercial and DoD. I’m trying to get a frame of reference for your perspective.

  • guest

    Charles Houston wrote:
    “one of these days the government will be certifying commercial spacecraft. With it’s aging civil service work force, perhaps? The government will be developing the MPCV (it is in the signed Authorization!!), etc. Will the workforce be there? Or will they hire lots of fresh outs and start the training process? Where will be corporate knowledge, the “gray beards” be?”

    Not to worry. Nothing new is coming. I am pretty convinced that NASA has already been putting the inexperienced 30-45 year olds in the lead positions for some time. Take a look at the top people in Constellation, Shuttle and ISS. If they are that age, and if they were always civil servants, how much DDT&E or even cert could they have done? Very little has been developed in 15 years at least in HSF in the US. You would have needed 45-60 year olds if you had wanted experience. And I can tell you from personal experience, the 30-45 year olds will always tell you they know a better way, and have no interest in doing it as its been done in the past. Which I think explains where we are today. No Constellation, an Orion that has serious problems, an ISS tens of billions and a decade behind, and a Shuttle going out of business with nothing remotely comparable in the plan.

    Evolution is always better than revolution. We did not learn that lesson coming out of Apollo, and we have not learned it this time around either.

  • GuessWho

    Oler – “almost as bad as the GOP which will more or less go along with that number …

    I will agree for the most part on this portion of your statement. Until and unless the GOP starts talking real spending cuts, across all segments of the budget, they are little better than the Dems. If you look at the 1969 budget, entitlement spending was essentially zero and the entire $184M budget was essentially “discretionary”. While one can argue the level of inflation since 1969, a general rate of 4% is within a few tenths one way or another. This equates to a 2011 outlay of $955M which is within reasonable range of the $1.37B in discretionary spending in the 2010 budget. Thus the US economy historically has supported this level of discretionary spending. What the US economy cannot support is $2B+ in entitlement spending.

    “… and yet refuses to raise taxes on the uber rich, …”

    Define the uber rich. I asked you this question once before and you ducked the question. I gave you data for 2008 (latest I could find from the IRS at the time) but this site has additional data:

    http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/bush-tax-cuts-for-the-rich-actually-had-the-rich-paying-more-taxes/

    “the very people whose tax cut got us into this mess…”

    Data suggests otherwise.

    … and whose lack of productivity is part of the problem with the economy.”

    You will have to elaborate on this statement. Are you saying people who go out and work hard for a living and earn a large income are being non-productive? Are you implying that it is the “uber rich” people’s responsibility to create jobs for the masses? That this is their moral responsibility? Sounds a lot like the “moocher” mentality presented by Ayn Rand.

    “One cannot have it both ways. ONe cannot dislike uncontrolled spending and then get on and shill for a space effort Cx that was nothing more then a gift to various corporations …”

    At what point I have ever “shilled” for Cx? Stop lying. Cx was/is a complete waste of the taxpayers money. The blame lays squarely on the shoulders of NASA management, both at HQ and at the individual Centers. I don’t fault for a second the “commercial” industry players that played the NASA game and won. COTS was no different. Established aerospace companies (the big three) were not allowed to bid as NASA wanted smaller, non-traditional “Primes”. Fine, NASA set the playing field and the rules and some won while others lost. The game was the same as Cx however, just different winners and losers.

  • SpaceProducesJobs

    NASA is mission critical for the country as a jobs and economic engine. If a shutdown occurs, NASA should be exempted from the efffects.

  • GuessWho

    CS – “If I were the WH I’d take the $61B cut and throw it at their face, negligently saying they can do better. That when they come back with a smart, intelligent way to fix our deficit then I’ll sign. Not rhetorical partisan nonsense.”

    And yet the Dems can’t even muster this much. They throw out a token $40B and claim fiscal responsibility. The Dems ran both houses of Congress from 2006 – 2010 and the budget deficit grew faster than any other point in US history, including the first six years of the Bush administration. You claim they are blameless for this rise in the deficit. I disagree with your view. That the current GOP house sent a CR that reduces spending by $61B is at least a movement in the right direction but is should have been more like $250B with another $500B reduction in 2012.

    “Is this supposed to help us with social security? Or medicare? Come on!!”

    I am resigned to the fact that I will never see a penny from social security (I am in my mid-40′s). I have also never assumed it was going to be there as part of my retirement planning. Social Security is nothing more than a Government sanctioned Ponzi scheme. That was evident when I entered the workforce in the late 1980′s. Rather than relying on the USG to take care of me after I retire, I relied on myself and put in place an investment strategy of my own that I control and that will serve my needs after I stop working. I suggest you try that approach as I see neither established political party willing to stand up and tackle this problem.

  • I was working for a NASA contractor at JSC during the last shutdown. We kept working. In fact, we got a lot done because there were fewer meetings with NASA :). Those who worked on-site had to work from the company offices. NASA decided who was essential, but a lot of government employees were sent home.

  • I agree with Jeff’s post. This is a replay of the shut-down from 1995, “What was old is new again.” Political rhetorical theatrics du jeur.

    As far as NASA is concerned, IMHO this threatens STS-135, be ready for STS-134 to be the real end for Shuttle.

    Commercial wins it’s funding, even if it’s on a CR. Reason; it’s still cheaper than funding SLS/Orion.

  • amightywind

    Obama and hist Bolsheviks will create more debt in 2011 ($1.65T) than George Bush created in his entire 8 years in office. That and his utter indifference to the debt’s horrendous consequences for our youth are a moral outrage.

    Rather than relying on the USG to take care of me after I retire, I relied on myself and put in place an investment strategy of my own that I control…

    Indeed, it isn’t hard to do. It is surprising that most people instinctively live hand to mouth. They lack any discipline. They wallow in victimhood. The rest of us? They call us ‘the rich’ and covet our savings.

  • Vladislaw

    Social Security is not contributing one penny to the current deficit. It is running an almost 3 trillion dollar surplus and is good until 2037. I would prefer they raise the full retirement age to 70 and leave the standard retirement age at 65 with a 2% discount per year under 70. So if you retire at 65 you get 90% benefits at 66 you get 92% et cetera.

  • common sense

    @ GuessWho wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    “And yet the Dems can’t even muster this much.”

    Again I am not pointing fingers at Dems OR GOPers BUT at BOTH. Both play an idiotic game: “Who is going to be the most stupid” is the name of the game.

    “You claim they are blameless for this rise in the deficit.”

    No I did not. Re-read. I said they and the GOPers are to blame. It’s too easy to say they are to blame ONLY.

    “That the current GOP house sent a CR that reduces spending by $61B is at least a movement in the right direction but is should have been more like $250B with another $500B reduction in 2012.”

    Here I vehemently disagree. The point is NOT to cut. Cuts on their own mean nothing. You could cut $1B yet the problem would eventually re-occur. They must change the way they do business. Profound change. It should include funding for the campaigns. It should include re-organizing procurement at the very least.

    “I am resigned to the fact that I will never see a penny from social security (I am in my mid-40′s). I have also never assumed it was going to be there as part of my retirement planning.”

    I am not resigned, yet. But I never assumed it’d there fore my retirement either.

    “Social Security is nothing more than a Government sanctioned Ponzi scheme. That was evident when I entered the workforce in the late 1980′s. Rather than relying on the USG to take care of me after I retire, I relied on myself and put in place an investment strategy of my own that I control and that will serve my needs after I stop working. I suggest you try that approach as I see neither established political party willing to stand up and tackle this problem.”

    I don’t disagree BUT you and I have the luxury to do it. Not every one does. Not every one has access to a 401k or similar. Not everyone has the means to take part of their wages into a retirement plan. We live in a society, a collage of communities. The politicians keep trying to take us all apart, the poors v. the richs, pick the split you like. In a community you never, NEVER, know when you will need some one to help you, no matter his/her background. But the permanent ongoing alienation of every one is not going to help US as a people. We ought to have a good retirement system, a good health care system. Bringing a single payer healthcare, for now, would be the solution. And we could say: Here single payer until 2050 and we will revisit when the law ends. Tax cuts in theory do help the economy. Today we have a very low tax rate, what is there to cut? This is all partisan nonsense. I am sure you can see this, can’t you?

    Again Dems and GOPers are to blame overall. I’d say this though. Dems are more to blame because they cannot run united with a (then) strong president elect. GOPers are to blame because they put us through useless idiotic wars that consume blood and treasure to no end and they cannot live to their principles of so called financial responsibility/conservatism. Both are to blame for the way they let major lobbies (defense, pharmacy, farms, you name it) dictate the way we should live.

    Remember this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divide_and_rule It’s been around forever and works pretty well…

  • Robert G. Oler

    GuessWho wrote @ February 27th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I wrote:
    “… and yet refuses to raise taxes on the uber rich, …”

    you replied:
    “Define the uber rich.”

    I doubt I ducked that, if I didnt respond specifically it was because there was some other issue, but it doesnt take much or many keystrokes to figure out where I am on this. The “uber rich” are in my view anyone who is making over 1 million a year…I would be generous and say that anyone over say 2 million a year should pay really high rates…

    between .5 million and 2 million should go back to the Clinton tax levels…and 100K to .5 million should be in a higher category then the folks below but in a lower category then the next class. (if for no other reason then it is start up business territory and two income professionals…We, my wife and I are in this group).

    The argument that the “uber rich” need the money so they can create jobs is goofy and people like Warren Buffet have more or less chopped it apart.

    The data doesnt suggest otherwise…and even if it did…people who have profited by the setup in side The Republic should be able to pay more to keep it going. People who make the money Rush does…should pay a lot. The Bush tax cuts coupled with the two wars and his profligate domestic spending well only an idiot would not have predicted hugh out of control deficits.

    I have both my own retirement plan, a US government one (grin) and SS is very solvent. What has screwed it is that a lot is owed to it because Bush etal borrowed from it a lot just as they did things like “kept the wars off books” to fake the deficit.

    But having said that andhaving paid into social security, if the system needed it, my retirement will be great without it…

    The GOP cannot do real spending cuts. getting the budget in line cannot be done without tax increases…because the cuts that have to happen to do it without tax cuts are ones that are to painful to all but the nuttiest of the GOP faithful. Go on any Facebook page of any of the right wing “nuts” and you see everyone whose G payment is in some jeopardy and they are quite happy to justify it. Plus the corporate blood suckers are more GOP leaning then Dem.

    A whole list of “god fearing Republicans” came on one prominent “right winger” FAcebook page and was babbling on about the alternate engine for the F-35 and how it would help “keep us safe”.

    Go on Pete TX-22′s page and there are testimonies after testimonies about how Cx is going to make America proud…

    Plus Republicans love wars. and they are expensive.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Fred Cink

    “…I would be generous and say that anyone over say 2 million should pay really high rates”….once again oh great and powerfull Oler, please impart your superior intellegence, experience, wisdom and morals on the rest of us, we lowly creatures who are so fortunate just to grovel for morsels of your Marxist inspired ideology. Just what is the magical percentage of a human being’s life energy that should be forfeited in a vain attempt to satisfy our governments unending cry for “MORE MORE MORE” (thanks to CCR and John Fogarty) “Plus the corporate blood suckers are more GOP leaning than Dem.” and “Plus Republicans love wars” You really should be hosting a show on MSLSD instead of just parroting their talking points.

  • Fred Cink

    Vladislaw, you are very wrong on your social security numbers. Income from social security taxes HAS been far in excess of expenditures since the program’s inception in the 30′s, and WAS supposed to remain that way until at least 2017. Unfortunately the economic downturn caused such a drop in revenues and the increasing numbers of retiring baby boomers caused enough of an increase in benefits paid that for the first time in history, SS outlays exceeded income for some months (but not the year as a whole) Unless the economy REALLY picks up in the next 30 minutes or so, 2011 will be the first full budget year where the same thing happens. And all those trillions in collected taxes from the last 70 years have been SPENT by our elected government officials on the most WORTHY of goals, projects, and ideas and all that we have to look forward too is increased taxes to cover previous deficit spending, current deficit spending, future deficit spending and the interest payments to cover it all. Can you say “holy economic calamity, Batman?”

  • Bennett

    @ Fred

    “MSLSD” Did you coin that? If so, kudos.

    Can you say “holy economic calamity, Batman?”

    Yeah, it doesn’t look good. So plant a big garden this year and if you can (based on where you live), buy some goslings, chicks, and piglets… and a bull calf.

    That’s our plan, and it’s shared by lots of folks who don’t live in suburbia. I do watch the politics, and dream of space for my son, but I also do what needs to be done to survive in style.

    Food is gold.

  • GuessWho

    CS – “I don’t disagree BUT you and I have the luxury to do it. Not every one does. Not every one has access to a 401k or similar. Not everyone has the means to take part of their wages into a retirement plan.”

    Wrong – on all counts. It is not a luxury, it was earned through hard work. Hard work in school, hard work in college, hard work in my professional career. It was doing the homework and studying to earn good grades in high school rather than out partying and boozing it up with friends. It was putting myself through college by earning scholarships and working while attending classes. It was putting in 60-80 hour work weeks to meet my customer’s needs and advance my career. It was putting money in the bank, in IRA’s, in mutual funds and not drowning myself in debt. All of the above are available to anyone who wants to take advantage of it.

    “We ought to have a good retirement system, a good health care system. Bringing a single payer healthcare, for now, would be the solution.”

    From my perspective, you are wrong on all accounts. Retirement is a personal responsibility, not the “community’s”. You seem to advocate the confiscation of money and wealth from someone who has worked hard, saved, and put away retirement funds and to give it to someone who has done none (or little) of the same. I like the following analogy:

    You and I are walking down the street and encounter a homeless man on the corner. As a conservative, I have no problem taking $20 dollars out of my pocket and giving it to the homeless man as an act of charity. It is a completely right and moral act. However, the Dem/Progressive model goes like this;

    You and I are walking down the street and encounter a homeless man on the corner. You pull out a gun and under threat of violence (i.e, the IRS threatens fines/imprisonment for not paying taxes), force me to take $20 dollars out of my pocket (i.e., taxes for wealth redistribution) and give it to the homeless man. That’s not fair I say. Your reply is “Let’s take a vote, democracy rules, you, the homeless man, and I will all vote on whether he should get the $20.” The outcome is predictable. This is where we are when 50% of the voting population pays 0% of the income tax burden.

    You want to change how things are done? You want to remove the influence of lobbyist’s on the Federal Govt.? Change the approach that punishes hard work and rewards laziness/indifference. Take a good hard look at the FairTax proposal. Bypass the usual media pundits’ take on this approach and read the book put out by John Linder and Neal Boortz. It all but eliminates the IRS and removes the leverage that Lobbyists currently hold through manipulation of the tax codes to benefit individual clients or industries.

    My apologies to Jeff as this has veered way off-topic but shutdown of the USG is based on topics that far surpass the world of space. And contrary to Oler’s predictions, the majority of the US (if you put stock in any polls) are in favor of a USG shutdown if it forces the Government to reign in spending. See:

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/february_2011/58_favor_government_shutdown_until_spending_cuts_are_agreed_upon

  • Dennis Berube

    When originally conceived, the Social Security system was supposed to be only for those who have worked all their lives and as their senior years approach can retire with a steady income. However, once the politicians of our day got their hands into it, well you cans see the outcome. They have taken money from it leaving IOUs, with the promise to pay back later. However that promise has never been kept, and now they want to take SS away from all of us, so they dont have to pay it back. What a rip off. It is a constant attempt by politiicans, to screw the little man out of all they can take. Social Security should never have been touched or changed from its original concept.

  • common sense

    @GuessWho wrote @ March 1st, 2011 at 12:59 am

    “Wrong – on all counts. It is not a luxury, it was earned through hard work… All of the above are available to anyone who wants to take advantage of it.”

    It is a luxury for you now that you have done your work. I don’t know what bubble you actually live in but are you saying that any one from South Central LA for example could become what you are through hard work? Ever been on jury duty? Ever cared to see what those people are going through? You are blinded by your own success. Sure through hard work some people even become president of the USA despite difficult upbringing. But saying that any one could do it? Come on walk down the street and ask people.

    “From my perspective, you are wrong on all accounts.”

    I am sure I am.

    “Retirement is a personal responsibility, not the “community’s”. You seem to advocate the confiscation of money and wealth from someone who has worked hard, saved, and put away retirement funds and to give it to someone who has done none (or little) of the same.”

    Confiscation? What are you talking about? You and I pay for social security. I am advocating a system that we don’t have to worry that in 20 or 50 years will go belly up. You know I have read some of the post you had on TPS and it was well “argumented” but this. Slow down for a second and think. You paid several thousand of dollars in retirement to the USG. BUT you say it is okay that it may be lost?

    “I like the following analogy:

    You and I are walking down the street and encounter a homeless man on the corner. As a conservative, I have no problem taking $20 dollars out of my pocket and giving it to the homeless man as an act of charity. It is a completely right and moral act. However, the Dem/Progressive model goes like this;

    You and I are walking down the street and encounter a homeless man on the corner. You pull out a gun and under threat of violence (i.e, the IRS threatens fines/imprisonment for not paying taxes), force me to take $20 dollars out of my pocket (i.e., taxes for wealth redistribution) and give it to the homeless man. That’s not fair I say. Your reply is “Let’s take a vote, democracy rules, you, the homeless man, and I will all vote on whether he should get the $20.” The outcome is predictable. This is where we are when 50% of the voting population pays 0% of the income tax burden.”

    So basically you are saying we should rely on the good heart of people to ensure a semblance of social net? You know what happens when the “wealthy” becomes too far apart from the “needy”? Maybe you ought to read a little history? The distance from the “wealthy” to the “needy” is growing every year.

    “You want to change how things are done? You want to remove the influence of lobbyist’s on the Federal Govt.? Change the approach that punishes hard work and rewards laziness/indifference. Take a good hard look at the FairTax proposal. Bypass the usual media pundits’ take on this approach and read the book put out by John Linder and Neal Boortz. It all but eliminates the IRS and removes the leverage that Lobbyists currently hold through manipulation of the tax codes to benefit individual clients or industries.”

    So basically no IRS and no lobby? Come on.

    “My apologies to Jeff as this has veered way off-topic but shutdown of the USG is based on topics that far surpass the world of space.”

    Yes we agree just not on the appropriate methods. And we’ll see about the shutdown. It is a partisan over simplistic approach. I’d like to see all the god-fearing GOPers, as Robert I think call them, say that we ought to cut spending in the DoD by 50% and then I might believe what they say. Because DoD spending is not all about defending the nation it is a lot about pork.

  • GuessWho

    CS – “I don’t know what bubble you actually live in but are you saying that any one from South Central LA for example could become what you are through hard work? Ever been on jury duty? Ever cared to see what those people are going through? You are blinded by your own success.”

    Referencing LA, or California for that matter, as a standard by which to compare is a joke. Here is a state that is the poster child for liberalism run amok. A state that is totally bankrupt because of decades of ultra-left-wing, nanny state policies. Talk about living in a bubble. That citizens of South Central LA reflect this statist mentality and are incapable, if I understand your argument, of working hard to better themselves doesn’t surprise me in the least. And I am not blinded by my success, I can see the trap of the alternative because of it.

    “I’d like to see all the god-fearing GOPers, as Robert I think call them, say that we ought to cut spending in the DoD by 50% and then I might believe what they say.”

    I would just offer this bit of reality with respect to your apparent hatred of “rich people” and view that if only we were to cut DoD, then everything would be solved. Obama’s own Congressional Budget Office recently released this little piece of information:

    If current laws remain unchanged, as we assume for CBO’s baseline projections, the economic recovery and scheduled expiration of major tax provisions would cause budget deficits to drop markedly over the next few years as a share of output. Still, CBO projects that deficits would average 3.6 percent of GDP from 2012 through 2021, totaling nearly $7 trillion over that decade. As a result, the debt held by the public would keep rising, reaching 77 percent of GDP in 2021.

    What does this tell us? It tells us that even if we don’t let the “rich people” keep their tax breaks (“which is the right thing to do,” according to you and Obama) our debt would still continue to rise. That’s because we do not have a revenue problem in this country. We have a spending problem. Raising taxes is not going to solve our fiscal crisis. Shrinking government, cutting government, reducing spending … that’s what we have to do. And that conversation starts with entitlement reform – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid must be addressed. In fact, again Obama’s CBO continues …

    During the past few decades, the significant increase in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending has been accommodated in the federal budget by a marked decline in defense spending relative to GDP. Between 1970 and 2007, outlays for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as a share of GDP increased by a little more than 4 percentage points; over that same period, outlays for defense as a share of GDP decreased by a little more than 4 percentage points. Looking ahead, outlays for Social Security and federal health programs will continue to expand more rapidly than GDP as the baby boomers retire and health spending per person increases–climbing nearly another 4 percentage points in CBO’s projections by 2021. With defense spending running between 4 percent and 5 percent of GDP in the past few years, significantly reducing deficits will require changes to programs or tax payments that people will feel much more directly than they felt those past changes in defense spending.

    While I agree that there is “pork” in Defense spending (news alert – there is pork in every aspect of Government spending), slashing DoD while sparing that “social net” you think the USG should provide will not solve the US fiscal problems. It will only serve to weaken the US and its ability to protect our economic and security interests abroad and at home.

  • common sense

    @GuessWho wrote @ March 2nd, 2011 at 8:27 am

    “Referencing LA, or California for that matter, as a standard by which to compare is a joke. Here is a state that is the poster child for liberalism run amok. A state that is totally bankrupt because of decades of ultra-left-wing, nanny state policies. Talk about living in a bubble. That citizens of South Central LA reflect this statist mentality and are incapable, if I understand your argument, of working hard to better themselves doesn’t surprise me in the least. ”

    No you clearly do not understand what I am saying. I am pretty sure after reading this comment that you have no idea what I am talking about. Ultra left wing California??? Remind me the political afiliation of former Gov. Shwarzeneger…

    “And I am not blinded by my success, I can see the trap of the alternative because of it.”

    Oh yes you are.

    “I would just offer this bit of reality with respect to your apparent hatred of “rich people” and view that if only we were to cut DoD, then everything would be solved.”

    My hatred of “rich people”??? How do you know I am not a “rich people”? I did not know that DoD and rich people were the one and same thing. Not that I hate the DoD, just in case…

    “What does this tell us? It tells us that even if we don’t let the “rich people” keep their tax breaks (“which is the right thing to do,” according to you and Obama) our debt would still continue to rise.”

    Oh boy. You like to read whatever you like in my writing. I said that there is no more tax cuts to be had. We have a very low tax rate. The tax rate is not inhibiting employment. I said that the funds do exist and they are not being used. There is an ongoing market correction. Whether you cut or not cut further will not change the situation. That is what I said. Not what you write. You are indeed blinded but not only by you success but also by your ideology.

    “That’s because we do not have a revenue problem in this country. We have a spending problem. Raising taxes is not going to solve our fiscal crisis. Shrinking government, cutting government, reducing spending … that’s what we have to do. And that conversation starts with entitlement reform – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid must be addressed. In fact, again Obama’s CBO continues …”

    No it’s not: Cutting will NOT reduce our deficit. There is a structural incentive to our deficit. How hypocritical! So what do you wnat to cut since I believe $61B is not going to cut our $1.3T deficit. What? You blow words just like a good soldier who repeats the inane comments of your leadership. Can you think on your own?

    “While I agree that there is “pork” in Defense spending (news alert – there is pork in every aspect of Government spending), slashing DoD while sparing that “social net” you think the USG should provide will not solve the US fiscal problems.”

    I did not say DoD only but DoD has a lot of waste. If you had ever worked for the DoD you might know that. And if you are working for the DoD you are yet one of those “god fearing” Reps that Oler is talking about. Fearing for your job maybe? A job provided with government funding?

    “It will only serve to weaken the US and its ability to protect our economic and security interests abroad and at home.”

    What the DoD budget? Utter nonsense. Let me remind you in case you forgot that what brought us to our knees is a bunch of guys with box cutters! For CRYING OUT LOUD! Take your head out of the sand! How many F-22 do you need? To protect you against that?

  • Fred Cink

    “Cutting will NOT reduce our deficit.” that statement, a direct quote from a guy who calls himself “common sense” Am I the only one who sees the irony, disregard for all things logical, sad humor, and depths of denial that political ideology can produce?

  • common sense

    @ Fred Cink wrote @ March 2nd, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    “that statement, a direct quote from a guy who calls himself “common sense” ”

    Maybe I am a gal for all you know.

    “Am I the only one who sees the irony, disregard for all things logical, sad humor, and depths of denial that political ideology can produce?”

    Can you look your image in the mirror and convince you that $61B will cut the deficit? Talk about ideology… You do not understand. That’s okay. You can learn or not.

  • VirgilSamms

    “A state that is totally bankrupt because of decades of ultra-left-wing, nanny state policies.”

    Shows how much you know about state politics. CA is very conservative- all the liberalism that get’s so much wailing and gnashing of teeth on talk radio and fake news is city politics. I know I live there 10 years. All the state politics there has always been about the ultra-rich and greedy corporations. Hey- wait a minute- kind of like the Federal Government!

  • GuessWho

    VirgilSamms – “Shows how much you know about state politics. CA is very conservative- all the liberalism that get’s so much wailing and gnashing of teeth on talk radio and fake news is city politics. I know I live there 10 years. All the state politics there has always been about the ultra-rich and greedy corporations.”

    While I am not from CA, it took all of about 2 minutes to come up with the following facts:

    The Democrats have controlled the Senate since 1970. The Democrats have controlled the Assembly since 1970 except for the 1995-1996 session. Specific data from 1999-present shows that:

    The Democrats have controlled the State Senate with a 25-15 majority (except for two sessions that were 26-14 (2001-2002) and 24-14 (2009-2010)) since at least the 1999-2000 session.

    The Democrats controlled the Assembly with a nominal 50-30 majority (sometimes 48-32 as in 2003-2008 (3 sessions) and sometimes by a larger margin as in the 52-28 breakout in the current session).

    All of which shows you clearly do not understand CA politics or your idea of what “conservative” means is significantly warped. Either that or you are just a pathological liar. Hard to say.

    Then again, if you are of the same mind as CS and actually think “Arnold” was a conservative, well …. maybe you just can’t help yourself.

  • common sense

    @ GuessWho wrote @ March 2nd, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    “Then again, if you are of the same mind as CS and actually think “Arnold” was a conservative, well …. maybe you just can’t help yourself.”

    Unless of course you never lived in CA and don’t know what you are talking about.

    Just wondering why the Silicon Valley in in CA and not in TX… Any idea?

    Also according to http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fsb/fsb_beststates/2007/ CA is number 5 while TX is number 43. Must be a CA Socialist-Bolshevik thing…

    Nah… TX has JSC and Clear Lake. That must be it.

    Oh well…

  • common sense

    “Also according to http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fsb/fsb_beststates/2007/ CA is number 5 while TX is number 43. Must be a CA Socialist-Bolshevik thing…”

    Ooopps My mistake… TX ain’t so bad after all ;)

    Oh well…

  • Fred Cink

    OK, I do believe in subtraction, I just dont always do it well.

  • common sense

    @ GuessWho wrote @ March 2nd, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    “Then again, if you are of the same mind as CS ”

    You know that hurts.

  • GuessWho

    CS – ““Also according to http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fsb/fsb_beststates/2007/ CA is number 5 while TX is number 43. Must be a CA Socialist-Bolshevik thing…”

    Ooopps My mistake… TX ain’t so bad after all ;)

    Oh well…”

    No problem, mistakes are human.

    Not exactly sure what the point of this post was supposed to be though. CA is friendly to entrepreneurs? Clearly it is middle of the pack. One would have to put that set of data in context however. Is the business climate favorable because of state or local tax incentives or do businesses startup in spite of state politics? Is it due to availability of a skilled (or unskilled) workforce? What is the success rate of those new startups? Are they IT, manufacturing, or service sector startups? You will have to elaborate on what point you were trying to make.

    The point I was making, and I still stand by that point, is that decades of nanny state ideologies that have played out in CA are a major factor for its current state of bankruptcy. Social network spending (entitlements) and extremely generous state employment benefits cannot be sustained when the state is bankrupt. In my view, CA, and a number of other states like Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, are current examples of where the Federal Govt. will be in only a few years given current spending trends.

    Historical data have consistently shown that US Government revenue (taxes) at the 20% of GDP level is sustainable. That is where the US is currently. We are currently spending in excess of 26% of GDP and per my earlier post, most of this additional spending is entitlements. You disagreed (as near as I can tell) with the position of the CBO with respect to where growth in USG spending is occurring and will continue to occur, namely SS, Medicare/Medicaid, in the out years. It was their statement that DoD spending, as a portion of the GDP is decreasing, not mine. So how does further reduction in DoD alone solve the deficit/debt issue? It doesn’t and I think you agree on this. Reductions in spending have to occur in the arena of entitlements as well, even more so than in discretionary spending (DoD) to have any chance of driving deficits to zero and reducing the national debt. I also agree that $61B is not going to do it when we are pushing a nearly $4T yearly budget. This is only about 1.6% and represents a tiny nibble at the edges of the problem. It should be an order of magnitude greater to even have a chance of putting the US economy on the right trajectory. Targeted cuts are difficult to achieve as one man’s target is another’s sacred cow. Across the board cuts, on their own, don’t work either. Individuals don’t do that at their household level so expecting the USG to do that is naive. It needs to be a combination of both. Across the board to achieve 40-60% of the necessary cuts (both discretionary and entitlements) and targeted cuts to duplicative or non-core programs that in times of financial stress are more “nice-to-haves” rather than “must-haves” to achieve the remainder of the cuts.

    Just my $0.02

  • common sense

    @ GuessWho wrote @ March 3rd, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    “No problem, mistakes are human.”

    You know the day we stop making mistakes is the day we stop doing anything. I just found myself a nice excuse.

    “Not exactly sure what the point of this post was supposed to be though.”

    The point I tried to make, poorly, is that if the state was such a “socialist” state then there would be no such innovative business as we can find in the Silicon Valley. A little difficult to elaborate here without further research and data and facts. But you seem to feel that CA is just a nanny state which it is not.

    “The point I was making, and I still stand by that point, is that decades of nanny state ideologies that have played out in CA are a major factor for its current state of bankruptcy.”

    No it is not quite true. And yes “Arnold” is a conservative. Now more to the point. It is not whether CA is a nanny state or not that is the problem. The real problem is the stupid law that makes Congress unable to do anything without a 2/3 majority. Even Arnold who came to change things was not able to. Let me remind you that Arnold was a good friend of Bush first. That Reagan came from CA as well as Nixon. So again CA is not what you think. The problem and I think a lot of people would agree (of course not CA Congress) is the 2/3 majority which pretty much paralyzes everything. It is almost impossible to govern CA because of that. For example estate taxes are ridiculously low for the price of the houses in CA. If we were to raise these taxes CA would probably go below for a long time. No one is willing to address the problem… And yes we should be able to talk taxes without ideology. Taxes fund the schools and schools are a service to everyone. In a smart community you’d rather have your kids in school than at the mall. No matter your ideology. [Note further for another debate though that ideologies are quickly becoming a thing of the past with the ongoing globalization. Think about it.]

    “You disagreed (as near as I can tell) with the position of the CBO with respect to where growth in USG spending is occurring and will continue to occur, namely SS, Medicare/Medicaid, in the out years. ”

    No I do not disagree. I am saying that “cutting” is NOT the solution without a deep reform of our revenue/spending. If you only cut the problem is sure to re-occur. If you leave in place the mechanism that put us here in the first place it WILL re-occur no matter how much you cut. My point about the DoD is this. DoD is a good example why things go bad but again you can add the farm bill. These two are among the worst managed budgets. DoD and the farmers get all this cash regardless of performance. They get it because there are many DoD employees (direct and indirect) and many farmers. These are only two examples. You know there is a lot of waste in the DoD. Pursuing cold war weapon technology is idiotic at such a level. It generates a lot of waste. This money ought to be reassigned to counter insurgency, guerilla warfare, terrorism (Don’t give me DHS please, one of the most stupidest thing ever, another one I would gladly cut).

    “I also agree that $61B is not going to do it when we are pushing a nearly $4T yearly budget. This is only about 1.6% and represents a tiny nibble at the edges of the problem. It should be an order of magnitude greater to even have a chance of putting the US economy on the right trajectory. ”

    Yes at least an order of magnitude greater but if you do so you start attacking the problem and Congress does NOT want to do it. It would mean very unpopular measures and you can only cut education so far. ;)

    “Targeted cuts are difficult to achieve as one man’s target is another’s sacred cow.”

    Precisely. And if we somehow could come together irrespective of our ideologies then we could get something going. But we cannot, just watch the language of our politicians. The problem is that will probably “implode” at some point. It is not sustainable. So we can try the difficult measures now and recover or wait until collapse and then we can always find some tissue for our tears. Don’t think it is that far away. The last economic collapse was pretty close. This “war” is not over yet. Let me ask you something. The banks were bailed out with our taxes, our money. Now they earn interest on loans they provide to us. This is so beyond unethical I don’t even have a word. But had we let them go under we might be worse off. So how do we fix this? First we IMPOSE that they lend money to people and businesses (of course if they qualify if you see what I mean). But right they don’t and small businesses (the USA raison d’etre) are suffering. Idiotic.

    In the end if we put the rhetoric aside you will see that we, I believe, strive for the same thing. I am willing to accept cuts in my pet programs, call it welfare if you want. On the other hand I expect proportional cuts in your pet programs, DoD, DHS, and the likes of old Cold War mentality.

    There is a solution. No one is willing to sacrifice. In the end we will all sacrifice and it will hurt more.

    What is it gonna be? What do you think?

    With the current value of cash: My $2.00.

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