Congress

After the supercommittee

On Monday, the co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka the “supercommittee”, formally admitted defeat in their bid to develop a deficit reduction plan before a Wednesday deadline. The Budget Control Act passed in August established the supercommittee and required that it come up with at least $1.2 trillion in reductions, through any combination of spending cuts and revenue increases, by Wednesday; if it had, Congress would have had a month to vote on the plan.

The failure of the supercommittee means that automatic cuts, called sequestration, will take effect starting in fiscal year 2013. But as I note in an article Monday in The Space Review that covers nearer-term budget issues as well, the effect of this sequestration on NASA and other federal agencies is still uncertain. The required cuts in non-defense discretionary spending for FY13 amount to $54.7 billion, although the exact impact on each agency is uncertain (defense spending would also get an across-the-board $54.7-billion cut in FY13). It’s also possible the cuts will be modified by Congress in the months to come, as some have already proposed.

25 comments to After the supercommittee

  • lol

    Why are people talking about the automatic cuts as if either side will EVER let them happen?

  • common sense

    The Supercommittee did not fail. I don’t think they ever intended it to succeed.

    In these times of elections who would take such a responsibility to make cuts? No one. However it’s law and they will cut. So across the board cuts are similar to CYA for Congress. No one will take responsibility and every one says we must cut.

    Anyway, I suspect there will be cuts. Stupid and thoughtless cuts. Across the board. And doing so will fix… absolutely nothing.

    Why might you ask?

    Because we do not need “cuts” we need reforms. Much harder to do since you actually have to think. And our Congress has shown us that thinking is not exactly their forte as a group anyway.

  • Peter Pan

    Oh no! 100 billion in cuts out of a 1.6 trillion dollar deficit! We’re doomed!

    That these people can’t cut 1.2 trillion dollars over 10 years when that’s not even 100% of a one year deficit… unbelievable.

    “Hey guys, instead of adding 16 trillion dollars to the debt over the next 10 years, let’s add only 14.8 trillion.”

    “No.”

  • MrEarl

    See CS, sometimes our views are completely in sync.

  • 2552

    lol: because Obama has threatened to veto any attempt to undo the automatic cuts.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ November 22nd, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    You know this Congress in particular has become shameless. They are not working for the good of the USA.

    They do not take risks. And I mean well thought out risks. NASA is NOT risk averse. Our Congress is risk averse. So much so that not doing anything makes us passive in front of adversity.

    They have idiotic stance against China. But what do they do about it? They helped transfer wealth and jobs to China. Not now mind you. They did it years ago. They want to cut budget but they look at a pittance. They want to promote jobs growth yet they do not fund necessary renovation of our overall transportation infrastructure. They do not fund space technology that will really make a difference in the future. They do not properly fund so-called green energy – China is btw.

    All they care about are cuts. Tax cuts, budget cuts. Let me take that back. I don’t think they plan to cut their wages and expenditures. Only the average citizen has to.

    Thank you Congress.

  • MrEarl

    To hear them bicker back and forth you would think they are two 8 year olds trying to push blame for the broken lamp on the other one.
    Since no one in congress has the grapes to make the hard decisions that are needed, we have to through them all out.

  • MrEarl

    Sorry, I ment “throw” not “though”.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ November 22nd, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    “To hear them bicker back and forth you would think they are two 8 year olds trying to push blame for the broken lamp on the other one.”

    8 year olds? Nah, at least 8 year olds have a good reason. Y’know… they actually are 8 years old.

  • vulture4

    The only real chance for maintaining NASA funding is to let all the Bush Tax Cuts expire. These tax cuts threw the US into permanent deficit, did absolutely nothing to increase American productivity, and reduced the tax base so much that general revenue activities like NASA are nearly impossible. If we also put about $4 billion per year into $L$/Orion there will be nothing for development that might actually increase American productivity, create business, and improve our lives.

  • ROBERT OLER

      vulture4 wrote @ November 24th, 2011 at 10:25 am
    The only real chance for maintaining NASA funding is to let all the Bush Tax Cuts expire. ……

    Deleting these tax cuts is a start a necessary one for both the future of The Republic and it’s human space flight ambitions…but they are just a first step..both in general and in specific the country has to abandon failed national strategies that have essentially frozen it in a last century model which is not working anymore

    The main failure of sls (other then preserving failed infrastructure) is that it preserves failed thinking

    RGO

    Sent from my IPAD

  • JohnHunt

    No. We shouldn’t throw them ALL out. We should only throw out the extremists who will never consider listening to any argument from the other side. Then we should replace the extremists with moderates who will be open to reason and negotiation. To practically do this, moderate voters need to be informed about which legislators are moderate and which are thoroughly partisan based upon voting records.

  • DCSCA

    ROBERT OLER wrote @ November 25th, 2011 at 12:41 am
    vulture4 wrote @ November 24th, 2011 at 10:25 am
    “The only real chance for maintaining NASA funding is to let all the Bush Tax Cuts expire”

    In fact, the best way to save NASA is to tuck it under the wing as a civilian department of the DoD as a national security asset. As far as the public is concerned, “NASA” is wasting money today in the face of increasingly bleak economic realities.

    Witness the $2.5 billion wasted on lofting the unmanned rover, Curiosity, to Mars in this austere era November 27. Was this trip necessary at this time? No. These are fiscally hard times, with Americans living in cars, on streets and battling each other in the wee hours of post-Thanksgiving cheer at Walmarts to save $10, $20 or $50 on petty priced, Chinese made sundries. If Curiosity fails to alight in August, 2012, using that untested rocket-tethered landing system, it’ll be money lost– and bear in mind, 26 of the 40 probes sent to Mars have failed. And for unmanned probe advocates who claim it’s ‘cheaper’ than humna spaceflight, $2.5 billion would have covered three shuttle missions at $800 million each. The Webb Telescope is another massive waste of tax dollars in this austere era. There is nothing it could possibly discover of value that has been there 15 billion years to merit the ROI that can’t wait another 25 or 30 years for discovery in better economic times, when such toys for unemployable astronmers in the real world are more affordable..

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ November 27th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    the best way to save NASA is to tuck it under the wing as a civilian department of the DoD as a national security asset

    The DoD doesn’t even see NASA as a national security asset, so why would anyone else? This continues to be one of your silliest proposals, and you have yet to offer anything besides rhetoric that substantiates your idea. Pretty typical of you, of course – all hat, no cattle.

    Witness the $2.5 billion wasted on lofting the unmanned rover, Curiosity, to Mars in this austere era

    If anything the U.S. is doing pretty good getting rovers onto Mars, and Spirit and Opportunity have been very good at keeping the U.S. Taxpayer engaged in our space program. And considering that $2.5B barely covers the cost of one empty SLS rocket launch, the rover Curiosity will be providing 14+ years worth of off-world ROI. Much better than your 3 short Shuttle trips.

    If anything this progressively more and more ambitious Mars program (orbital assets + rovers) is a good template for how we should be doing NASA HSF.

  • common sense

    @ JohnHunt wrote @ November 27th, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Are you saying the Super Committee was made of only extremists? In both parties?

    All out is, would be, the right way. All. But who would replace them?

    Oh well…

  • common sense

    @ DCSCA wrote @ November 27th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    “There is nothing it could possibly discover of value that has been there 15 billion years to merit the ROI that can’t wait another 25 or 30 years for discovery in better economic times, when such toys for unemployable astronmers in the real world are more affordable..”

    Not only a historian and a spacecraft designer you are also an astrophysicist!

    Wow.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ November 27th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I’ll play along for a bit. what do you see NASA doing as a civilian DoD national asset? RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ November 28th, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Surviving through the Age of Austerity with some semblence of budgetary stability for mid-to-long term planning. Revisit Vanguard’s task group. Civilian staffed but under the wing of the DoD. Right now NASA is trying to justify/perpetuate its need to exist, justl ike any other government agency in tight times. As currently structured, it has outlived its raison d’etre as a stand alone civilian agency. It’s a Cold War relic. The nation doesnt need, nor can afford, three, for or five different ‘space agencies’ cloaked in secrecy. Consolidation is the future- and is cost-effective.

    @common sense wrote @ November 28th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
    And you seem content wasting other people’s money in austere times. ‘Wow’ us with what mysteries of the 15 billion year old universe are so pressing as to necessitate revelation to humans now that can’t wait another 25 years for better fiscal times. None, of course, but it is a nice pitch for make-work for befuddled astro-academia, unemployable at more practical, productive and profitable down-to-earth enterprises in tough times– like teaching kids math, road building and flipping burgers.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ November 27th, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    “The DoD doesn’t even see NASA as a national security asset”

    =yawn= You best revisit the history of DoD/NASA operations, location of facilities, etc. Then eat your own words. Sending a spiffy- and iffy- $2.5 billion atomic rover to Mars, a destination which has claimed 26 of the 30 efforts to reach it as failures, in an era when the United States is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy is a massive waste of dwindling resources.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 5:14 am

    You best revisit the history of DoD/NASA operations, location of facilities, etc.

    You being stuck in the 60′s has blinded you to what happened in the 80′s – Challenger. After Challenger the DoD realized that NASA could not be depended upon for anything, and that continues to this day. You lack of ability to provide any supporting evidence just drives home that point.

    a destination which has claimed 26 of the 30 efforts to reach it as failures

    Again, being stuck in 60′s lore blinds you to the reality of what’s been happening over the past decade – a string of five straight U.S. successes. Considering the breakthroughs and attention those other rovers, landers and orbiters have generated, and the science potential of a rover 5X as big as Spirit and Opportunity, $2.5B is a good investment if we ever plan on going to Mars.

    in an era when the United States is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy is a massive waste of dwindling resources.

    Why do you bother posting here if your goal is to shut down all the space programs. Maybe you should be posting elsewhere, where your comments will resonant more than here. You tend to sound like Danny Downer, where the rest of us are excited about the future of space exploration – don’t you see the disconnect?

  • common sense

    @ DCSCA wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Clearly you are not interested whatsoever in the origin of life or of this Universe. Maybe a little too complex for you? What is the age of the Universe? Do you know? Now can you venture a wild guess why it is important to be able to “see” that far? Could it be the revelations to you might scare all your beliefs?

    In any case if astrophysicists are what you say they are, how do you qualify yourself? What is it you actually do to improve our lives here on Earth?

    I would really like to know but I won’t hold my breath.

    Maybe we could tuck your job under the mighty wing of the DoD???

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 9:57 am

    =yawn= Again, revisit the development of American civilian space operations and reacquaint yourself with some general knowledge of same and its close association with the DoD. In so far as ‘civilian’ HSF goes, you’ll relearn that the majority of American astronauts were culled from the ranks of military test pilots experienced in high altitude research conducted by the services; that in both Project Mercury and Project Gemini, they were lofted on DoD developed missiles (the Redstone, Atlas and Titan); and their spacecraft (except for Apollo) were derived from DoD projects and funding, (Mercury was originally a USAF project; Gemini aka (Mercury Mark II ) design; the Agena target vehicles were shells derived from DoD funded baseline spysats of the period and the space shuttle orbiter was designed/developed with DoD operations/funding as well. Even their spacesuits were derived from DoD high altitude flight suits. Apollo was essentially unique in that its Saturn V. CSM and LM and rover were designed from civilian specs, yet its crews were mostly military personnel (however, even the Saturn I class was essentially a ‘cluster’ design of Redstone/Jupiter class missiles, designed/funded for miitary use by Von Braun’s Huntsville team.) And the overlap in shared facilities/locales is self-evident. To deny any association/ties between the DoD and NASA is simply absurd.

    @common sense wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 11:10 am
    =yawn = Which universe? And does it really matter to even know right now? No. The answers have waited 15 billion years– another 20 or 20 years wont matter much. You’re attempting to justify funding– funding which 41 cents of every dollar is borrowed- to subsidize the luxury of buying more toys for stargazers, who BTW have plenty of toys already in place on Earth and above it- in an era of massive fiscal austerity; in a time when 25% of American kids live at or below the poverty line; in a land where roads are crumbling, bridges collapsing and schools disintegrating and the nation is literally teetering on bankruptcy. Clearly balancing the national checkbook is a more complex project for astroacademia than any other project they’ve faced. Make the best of what you’ve got.

    And let’s be clear- the questions you seek answers to in no way ‘improve our lives on Earth’– in fact, that quest only reaffirms our place on it and its insignificance in the known cosmos. And government funding for such contemplative endeavors can wait another 20-25 years for when times are better. Of course, astroacademia can always seek sponsorship from other sources (like the PRC) or in the private sector– but then you’d have to convince Burger King or Exxon or Apple where the cost-benefit is in bigger, more costly astroacademic toys. The Webb Telescope and the Supercollider are classic examples of why these kind of ‘black hole’ research projects are a massive waste of tax dollars.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Again, revisit the development of American civilian space operations…To deny any association/ties between the DoD and NASA is simply absurd.

    That is not the topic of discussion. Again you rely on events that happened 50 years ago but are not relevant today. 25 years ago Challenger blew up, and since then the DoD has divorced itself from relying on NASA.

    Do they share government-owned facilities? Sure, why not. But that doesn’t mean that the DoD considers NASA “a national security asset”, which is your prime allegation.

    In fact you haven’t offered ANY evidence to support your wacko theory. None. Nada. Zero.

    Go back and try again.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ November 30th, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    In fact, it is. You just fail to comprehend what was written. In fact, the original source statement reads as follows: DCSCA wrote @ November 27th, 2011 at 3:53 pm “the best way to save NASA is to tuck it under the wing as a civilian department of the DoD as a national security asset.” A very back to the future statement BTW. YOUR allegation/assertion reads as follows: “The DoD doesn’t even see NASA as a national security asset.”

    You are, in fact, quite literally arguing with yourself. Again, best you refresh yourself with DoC/NASA affiliations since the agency was birthed.

    BTW, December 1, 2011 has arrived… and still no crewed or cargoed Dragons fly. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ December 1st, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Again, best you refresh yourself with DoC/NASA affiliations since the agency was birthed.

    I’ll take that as a “no”, that you can’t point to any evidence that the DoD wants or needs NASA today. Thanks for that confirmation.

    Everybody knows the history of NASA, and 50 years ago there was a lot of overlap with the military side of the government, but post-Challenger the DoD rid itself of any need for NASA.

    Your proposition, like most things you say, is unsupportable by any substantial evidence. ;-)

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