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Science Programs Hit Hard By Proposed Budget

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the somebody-invent-a-science-gun dept.

The Almighty Buck 395

BJ_Covert_Action writes "The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has released a list of proposed spending cuts for the US Federal Government. The proposed cuts include reductions in spending on many science organizations and funds such as NASA, NOAA, nuclear energy research, fossil fuel energy research, clean coal research, the CDC, the NIH, and numerous EPA programs. There are also quite a few cuts proposed on domestic services, such as Americorps and high speed rail research. The House Appropriations Chairman, Hal Rogers, acknowledges that the cuts go deep, and would hurt every district across the country. But they are still deemed necessary to rein in Congressional spending. Notoriously absent from the proposed budget cuts are two of the largest spending sinks in the federal budget: the Department of Defense and Social Security."

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395 comments

Is anybody really surprised? (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180614)

The DoD is the sacred cow to end all sacred cows, the only way it's ever going to get budget cut is if there is nothing else left to cut.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (0, Troll)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180712)

Sorry, but defense if one of the few budget items of the Federal government that is actually allowed by the Constitution.

Most of what they spend is unconstitutional. Cut those illegal programs first.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180724)

Obvious troll is obvious.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181006)

I love the CDC cuts. Did we learn nothing from the 'volcano research' disaster that was Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal? Criticize something only to have that very thing's usefulness be brought front and center just weeks later.

Can't wait till we find out the next bird flu *is* a pandemic and we're screwed because we stopped that wasteful Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180804)

Come on, sing it with me. You all know the words. ....Provide for the common defense, promote the GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity... do ordain and esta-a-a-blish this Constitution for the, uh, United States o-o-of A-me-ri-caaaaa

Ah, Schoolhouse Rock. Helping people remember the ENTIRE preamble to the Constitution since 1975. Or some people, at any rate.

Do you think we could get Lynn Ahrens to sing the rest of it for us? I think Article I Section 9 is pretty catchy:

No Preference shall be given by any
Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the
Ports of one State over those of another:
nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

OK, the last line kinda runs on a bit, but I'll work on it.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180978)

"Come on, sing it with me. You all know the words. ....Provide for the common defense, promote the GENERAL WELFARE..."

Yeah, but welfare back then, didn't mean what welfare does now. They didn't mean for programs to hand out money to people or support their lives/livestyles. It didn't mean federal government handouts, or wealth redistribution.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181050)

It means all sorts of things. It means, and I quote, "promote the general welfare". All kinds of things promote the general welfare, and some of 'em include handouts.

How much handouts promote the general welfare without harming it? I dunno. Maybe much, much less than we have right now. It's the kind of thing we can debate. But I can't debate it when people pick and choose the parts of the constitution they remember. If your reading of it stops at "provide for the common defense" then we're literally not talking about the same document.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181064)

All taxes are wealth redistribution, they take from us all and spend on things we all in theory need. Surely a social safety net is far more important than invading nations half way around the world. If you don't like paying for civilization I would be glad to provide you a one way ticket to Somalia or Liberia. If you decide to come back to the States I would require you give my money back so I can continue my "Educate a Libertarian Program".

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (2)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181054)

Yeah, problem is that the preamble of the Constitution has never been interpreted as a substantive source of legal authority for the federal government. Hint: It's the contents of the document, not the "introductory summary of what the document is about" that is where the powers are granted.

The General Welfare clause is in Section 8, where it grants Congress:
"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"

"General Welfare" is a highly subjective term, and open to a broad range of interpretations. I'd suggest being very careful - and very small-c-conservative - about granting powers using *that* clause, because if Democrats want to use it to grant Congress the authority to create a single-payer healthcare system (with all of the broad powers that such regulation would grant the federal government), when the conservatives get in power, they can then claim that it's promoting the "general welfare" to push through their pet programs.

If you care about personal liberty, then you must be very careful with broad sanction for "General welfare" legislation & spending. Once you start broadening that definition because "I think it's better for everybody," then anybody else can do anything else they want with that same justification, once they're in power. It is in your own best interests to limit the power and reach of the government, and one of the best ways of doing that is by limiting its granted powers to the specifically enumerated programs called for, rather than using "general welfare" as a catch-all justification for every program you think would be fun to implement.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (2)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181086)

As I always reply when reading this. It says promote the general welfare, it doesn't say provide.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (2, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181108)

The Preamble doesn't actually give any power. There's a reason it's called a "Preamble":

Preamble [reference.com] :
1. an introductory statement; preface; introduction.
2. the introductory part of a statute, deed, or the like, stating the reasons and intent of what follows.

Until you get to the actual body of the document, nothing in it has any legal force.

Of course, this sort of attack on science and education is stock-in-trade for a group of idiots I've had to take to calling "Retardicans", because they - despite having gained far too much power in the Republican Party over recent times - make actual, reasonable Republicans who are closer to the center look like idiots by association.

In a previous thread we were discussing "Senator Dan Patrick" - Teabagger/idiot extraordaire from the Texas 7th State Senate district. What's his claim to fame? Screaming a lot about how every government service should be less expensive, how there should be no taxes anywhere, and lying a lot. He was caught on his radio show declaring that anything but engineering and medical research is "research nobody cares about [wikipedia.org] " when he was discussing Texas's insane education cuts recently.

He's also been constantly sucking up to, and having his other radio hosts "interview", a major Texas liar by the name of Michael Quinn Sullivan, who loves to trot out the statistic (see also: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics) that there is "waste" in Texas Education because there is a "1 to 1 ratio" between teachers and "non-teachers" (his definition).

Unfortunately for him, first he's stretching his definitions [politifact.com] , then he's outright lying about them.

Sure, Texas has a "1 to 1 ratio" of teachers to nonteachers. How do you get there?

Step 1: count the teachers who have a "homeroom."
Step 2: discount anyone else who teaches or aids students - librarians, substitute teachers, speech therapists, deaf sign language interpreters, English as Second Language teachers, Special Ed teachers - as a "nonteacher."
Step 3: Tutors and study hall monitors: Again, "not teachers."
Step 3: count the lunchlady and school nurse.
Step 4: count the janitors.
Step 6: count the school security personnel (esp. the ones in inner city schools).
Step 6: count the BUS DRIVERS.

When Michael Quinn Sullivan screams about "waste" and says anyone who wants to find "waste" in government should "Just walk down to your nearest administrative complex" - yet "administrative" personnel are less than 4% of the Texas education force. And yet these pathetic retardicans (yes, I have to call them that) will accept his "1 to 1 ratio" screed with zero analysis and then scream about how we need to "cut education funding."

Pathetic. I can't look a real Republican straight in the face any more without wondering how it is they possibly fail to stand up to the Retardicans that have taken over their party.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180814)

Both "Spending money for the betterment of the general welfare" and "Regulate commerce between states and international trade" cover a lot of ground.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180908)

The goal is deficit reduction, not constitutional compliance. Cutting small programs won't fix the deficit problem.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180990)

No, it isn't. The Constitution does not provide authority for a standing army, and it's quite clear from the writings of the Founding Fathers that maintaining a standing army was considered outside the authority of the federal government.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (2)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181264)

Guess we followed those crazy ole founding fathers through the Revolutionary war, 1812, various collisions with Spain and Mexico, those cute little European in 1917 and 1941, Korea, VietNam, Iraq a couple of times, Afghanistan, and so on.

Does the phrase 'common defense' mean anything to you? Here, let me shine it in your face:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181296)

Raising a temporary army for a year or two for a war, sure. But we've had a standing army for decades now, which they were clearly against.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1, Informative)

Jhon (241832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180722)

No it isn't. Entitlements are (HHS, SS, Medicare, Medicaid). Not only do those nearly twice of the DoD, they aren't mandated Constitutional functions.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181010)

Invading multiple nations at a time is not Constitutionally mandated either. If you want cuts to entitlement be prepared to accept cuts to your sacred cow as well.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181078)

There's no way to get back to running surpluses (and therefore starting to actually pay down the debt) without massive cuts in all of the big three (social security, medicare, and defense). All of these are arguably Constitutionally mandated functions (providing for the common defense and the general welfare), but the Constitution doesn't say anywhere that we have to fund them to the level that we do. The Constitution doesn't say we have to keep the retirement age at 62 or cap SS contributions above a certain income level, and it doesn't say we have to fund a military at more than 6 times the level of China, who has the second highest military expenditure.

Whenever someone talks about cutting defense, the right tries to redirect the conversation over to entitlement programs. Whenever someone talks about entitlement programs, the left tries to redirect the conversation over to defense. Meanwhile, the situation continues to get more dire, and both sides pass tax cuts to placate the masses, and that makes the situation even worse.

The harsh reality is we can no longer afford to provide entitlements at the level we have been in the past, AND we can no longer afford to support such a ludicrous level of military spending. Until our Congresspeople are willing to accept and act on that fact, and until the voters are willing to reward them instead of crucifying them for making the necessary budget cuts, we will continue to slide down into insolvency.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181316)

Neither of them are going away, and here is why:

The RICH, get richer by siphoning off public money into their businesses through lucrative contracts. The RICH also want a strong military to protect their assets. So, there's why military spending won't be reduced.

The RICH, get richer by not having to pay a livable wage or give benefits to their employees. They are perfectly content to receive tax breaks and let the middle class support them, as well as the poor through entitlements bought with tax dollars the poor can't pay, and the rich won't pay. So, there's why entitlements won't be going away.

What we need to do is tax the fucking shit out of the rich. If you need money, you don't take it from the homeless, you take it from the folks that have it. They made this mess.

Alternatively, we could just kill benefits entirely. Then sit back and watch everything unravel as the poor and hungry pool the only resource they have left (their physical bodies), rise up, and take things by force of numbers from those who have plenty.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180996)

The DoD is the sacred cow to end all sacred cows

Well, at least to the party that has a majority in the House of Representatives.

OTOH, since the U.S. government has neither a unicameral legislature nor parliamentary soveriegnty, but instead has a bicameral legislature and legislative/executive power separation with an executive veto on legislation, a simple majority in one house of the legislature just gives you a certain degree of negotiating power, not the power to dictate policy.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181072)

"OTOH, since the U.S. government has neither a unicameral legislature nor parliamentary soveriegnty, but instead has a bicameral legislature and legislative/executive power separation with an executive veto on legislation, a simple majority in one house of the legislature just gives you a certain degree of negotiating power, not the power to dictate policy."

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but..doesn't the house have a bit MORE power when it comes to the budget...aren't they the ones that actually FUND programs and projects...and can cut them off too?

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181160)

All revenue-related bills (funding or de-funding) must originate in the House, but they still have to pass the Senate and the President to take effect. The House cannot unilaterally enact a funding measure, nor can it unilaterally cut funding. If, however, a previous bill has been passed to enact some sort of program, but that bill didn't include any sort of provisions to fund the program, the House could refuse to pass a bill funding that program, effectively killing it all by themselves since the Senate can't originate revenue bills. That's really the only situation I can think of where the House would be able to kill a previously passed initiative all by themselves.

DoD cuts need to be part of the solution (3, Insightful)

cje (33931) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181174)

Part of the problem is that anybody who proposes DoD cuts is immediately labeled a dangerous agitator who wants to embolden our enemies and put American lives at risk. There's a large and well-funded industry that's dedicated to perpetuating this myth, and they're frighteningly effective at their job. If we're to ever get the deficit situation under control, it will require a certain degree of maturity from the electorate -- along with the realization that there's enough pork in the defense budget to make a bacon replica of the Hoover Dam.

We also need a certain degree of maturity and a solidly-grounded perspective on taxes, as well -- but that's neither here nor there.

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181294)

then they just print more money to ensure national security and everyone goes home happy. Zeitgeist FTW

Re:Is anybody really surprised? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181308)

Third world people = third world country.

How I laugh at the holier than thou, supposedly intelligent idiots on Slashdot who pathetically try to defend the takeover of their previously all white country, by third world parasites, who are OBVIOUSLY destroying it, and turning it into a third world hellhole.

You idiots would literally rather watch your own children die, than actually THINK about what is happening. You can't even rationally debate it, that should give you a clue right there...

Great Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180626)

Keep your defense and social security spending as is, and kill all yoiur basic research and science. That's the way to the future.

Re:Great Idea (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180704)

Hey, we were not getting much out of that research money anyway, after all the US is one of the worst countries in science education.

Re:Great Idea (3, Interesting)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180938)

Did you ever hear of the National Institutes of Health?

http://healthpolicyandreform.nejm.org/?p=13733&query=home [nejm.org]

Sounding Board
Biomedical Research and Health AdvancesNEJM | February 9, 2011 | Topics: Other Health Issues
Hamilton Moses, III, M.D., and Joseph B. Martin, M.D., Ph.D.

In 1945, the President’s science advisor, Vannevar Bush, wrote in Science, the Endless Frontier 1 that basic scientific research was “the pacemaker of technological progress” and that “new products and new processes do not appear full-grown. They are founded on new principles and new conceptions, which in turn are painstakingly developed by research in the purest realms of science.” He recommended the creation of what would become the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which was created in 1948, and the National Science Foundation, created in 1950.

The biomedical-research enterprise in the United States soon became the envy of other nations, as well as the primary source of the world’s new drugs and medical devices. Since 1945, biomedical research has been viewed as the essential contributor to improving the health of individuals and populations, in both the developed and developing world.

Financing of research was ensured by the successes in the early 1950s of polio vaccination, antibiotics, and antipsychotic agents. Equally dramatic advances in surgery and medical devices, such as cardiopulmonary bypass, dialysis, and organ transplantation, followed in the 1960s. In the 1990s, the conversion of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and some cancers from uniformly fatal diseases to chronic conditions created an expectation that similar advances would occur for other devastating diseases.

P.S. Vannevar is not related to George. He invented the Internet in 1945. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1969/12/as-we-may-think/3881/ [theatlantic.com]

Re:Great Idea (2)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181002)

the US is one of the worst countries in science education.

What are you talkig about? We've got the latest "intelligent design". We teach that Global Warming is caused by SUVs, light bulbs are evil, innoculations cause mental disease, polar bears are almost completely gone, and people used to ride around on brontosaurus. We know that nuclear power plants will likely explode like a nuclear bomb, anything organic is good for you, diluting something until there is almost no chance that there is one molacule in a 50 gallon drum makes extremely powerful medicine, and waving your hands over a patient will cure serious diseases. The internet was designed by Al Gore as a series of tubes, cell phones are a major cause of cancer, and violent video games is one of the the major causes of crime.

Why should you be worried about science education in the US?

Re:Great Idea (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181206)

Exactly. Who needs science when you've got faith. Let those nasty terrorists try to spread their dirty nukes - we'll defeat them with the power of prayer because we believe, the Almighty will protect us, we will lay down our lives because we love Allah,......oh, wait a minute

Re:Great Idea (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181140)

Speaking of not getting much out of education, someone confused science education with science research.

One is mostly the Department of Education, the other are a variety of agencies that are suffering cuts.

Our science research is one of the things we do well.

Re:Great Idea (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180782)

Keep your defense and social security spending as is, and kill all your basic research and science. That's the way to the future.

Then wonder why so many American kids are functionally illiterate and start creating conspiracy theories about Chinese technology and badmouth globalization when technical jobs are outsourced to India...

The solution? Hire more lawyers, raise the managers' salaries, pay more bonuses to high executives.

Re:Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180928)

Well, everyone in America knows we don't need science, after all, we have God, right? We don't have to prove anything, we can get away with just BELIEVING it to be so.

That's why evolution is a MYTH. That's why intelligent design is TRUTH. That's why climate change is a MYTH. That's why "Drill, baby, drill!" is the best energy policy in the world. Fuck, that's why gravity is a MYTH - after all, it's only a "theory" provided by some elitist socialist scientists who want to force me to give all my hard-earned STUFF to the poor.

We are, after all, the US-of-fucking-A! We don't need no steenking science or edumajcation! God will provide all!

(Yes, this is meant in the most sarcastic way possible, just in case you were wondering)

queue the whiney bitches... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180632)

don't worry, Title I will make sure the poor kids use their borrowed Chinese money to become the next crop of uber-scientists.... ...or just be consumers.

For reasons that are obvious (2)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180638)

Defense spending will not be cut because it's *one of the few legitimate and constitutionally required functions of government*. And political suicide.

      Social security will not be cut because it would be political suicide. Instead, they will keep collecting for it, using the money for something else, and go bankrupt sometime in the not-to-distant future.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180750)

Defense spending will not be cut because it's *one of the few legitimate and constitutionally required functions of government*.

Surely you don't think our legislature let's that kind of stuff influence what they vote for.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181082)

You mean that you think that government under Obama would continue to implement a law that has been determined to be unconstitutional in the courts? Oh wait, that is actually happening right now.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (1)

Arterion (941661) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180768)

I'd eagerly go vote for someone who was willing to cut spending on defense, and I know a lot of people who agree with that sentiment. We spend way too much on it.

Unfortunately, the cuts would probably trickle down to hurt the lowliest people involved, probably "the troops", though it really needn't. I'm sure there's a lot of fat that could be cut out of the defense budget.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180954)

Unfortunately, the cuts would probably trickle down to hurt the lowliest people involved, probably "the troops", though it really needn't. I'm sure there's a lot of fat that could be cut out of the defense budget.

Yeah, like stuff the 'fiscal conservatives' insist on spending even when the Pentagon hasn't requested it.

The problem is that all the politicians want money spent in their own district, whether it's an Air Force base or a company that makes widgets for some kind of weapon system.

So yeah, the troops are the ones who get screwed. They're just ordinary folk, and don't merit the consideration of our corporate-owned Congress.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181044)

"Unfortunately, the cuts would probably trickle down to hurt the lowliest people involved, probably "the troops", though it really needn't. I'm sure there's a lot of fat that could be cut out of the defense budget."

Well, we could start by closing the majority of our bases around the world. I mean, do we really need such a presence in Europe? I'm not seriously worried about the Germans taking over again, nor of the Soviet Union crossing through Berlin.

Heck..we could still keep military superiority...but quit trying to defend the rest of the free world.

Hmm...hell, one of the reasons so many of the countries in the EU can have all that 'free healthcare' and other entitlements, is because they don't have to pay much for their military defense...the US does.

We should pull out of all those countries...and let them worry about defending themselves. I'm not just picking on Europe...but pretty much all of our bases that really aren't that strategic to the US.

I'd think that would take a healthy chunk out of defense spending?

Re:For reasons that are obvious (3, Insightful)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181162)

Hmm...hell, one of the reasons so many of the countries in the EU can have all that 'free healthcare' and other entitlements, is because they don't have to pay much for their military defense...the US does.

That may be part of it, but the US still pays vast amounts of money for health care... it's just going to the insurance companies via premiums instead of the government via taxes.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181228)

"That may be part of it, but the US still pays vast amounts of money for health care... it's just going to the insurance companies via premiums instead of the government via taxes."

I don't understand this statement that the US still pays vast amounts of money for health care. The US federal govt hasn't ever paid shit for my health care. I pay the premiums...etc, and have been VERY satisfied by my coverage. Both while W2 employed...and when contracting and paying on my own (I LOVED stuffing a HSA with pre-tax money for health needs)....

Now..obamacare is gonna fsck that up..it is already hitting...and I forsee in next years, I'll be paying more and getting much less.

Going forward the US IS going to start paying more..but aside from medicare/medicaid.what was the govt paying for?

Re:For reasons that are obvious (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181332)

Now..obamacare is gonna fsck that up..it is already hitting...and I forsee in next years, I'll be paying more and getting much less.

That's because that "liberal" bill had as much (or more) benefits for the insurance companies as it does for public, and didn't close a lot of loopholes that the companies are using to avoid the obligations while jacking up their rates.

The single most useful thing the Congress could do for US insurance rates (and thus indirectly for the public health) is to revoke the health insurance industry's exemption to antitrust laws. If they were competing rather than colluding, everyone (except their executives and stockholders) would be better off.

But how many "free market" advocates want to make companies actually have to compete for their profits?

Re:For reasons that are obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181334)

The US healthcare spending as a whole is the figure being referred to, not just the government's health care spending.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181186)

I highly doubt that without our bases the Germans would feel the need to build up a huge military. What are they afraid the French and the Poles would come after them?

War in Europe is not likely in the near future. We would need to keep at least one as a staging/refueling/medical area if we are to continue our wars in the mideast. Leaving only Ramstein AFB should be fine, and would indeed cut a lot of useless spending.

If we could stop our obsession with bombing poor brown people we could even close that one.

Another big area of savings would be to cancel weapons programs the pentagon does not want. The legislature loves to keep those as they are corporate welfare for defense contractors in their states.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181116)

Defense spending actually trickles down quite a bit in to science and research. Almost everything you would consider modern technology has its roots in defense spending. The private sector eventually finds consumer applications and refines and expands on the technology. This was true in the middle ages and is still true today.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181238)

I'm sure there's a lot of fat that could be cut out of the defense budget.

Such as? Which specific programs and expenditures that should be eliminated? It's real easy to go "Holy shit, we spend a lot on the DoD," much less clear what programs are specifically unnecessary and should be ended.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (2, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180770)

constitutionality has jack-all to do with defense spending not being cut... simply imagine: if, for some reason, our current military were unconstitutional, do you really think anyone in power would give a damn?

Re:For reasons that are obvious (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180838)

It is not political suicide but inertia. The general public would rather cut the defense budget than Social Security(SS), but all the talk is how much SS is going to be cut. The general public would rather increase taxes for wealthier Americans, instead they game them a big cut.

We have elected people who cannot actually fix any problems, just point fingers at this or that because they are believe themselves infallible because they got elected.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180934)

Defense spending will not be cut because it's *one of the few legitimate and constitutionally required functions of government*. And political suicide.

Cutting the offense spending will probably suffice.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181084)

Defense spending will not be cut because it's *one of the few legitimate and constitutionally required functions of government*.

There are many legitimate functions of government, but "defense spending" in general does not all go to Constitutionally-required functions. There aren't many Constitutionally required functions of government. Some of it goes to the Constitutionally-required function to protect the states within the U.S. from invasion, but most defense spending is used for functions which have, at best, a distant and speculative relation to that Constitutionally-required function.

Re:For reasons that are obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181280)

What? It's constitutionally required for us to spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined? To spend 7x our nearest rival? The constitution obligates us to be able to project overwhelming force anyplace on the globe in a matter of days? To be able to fight and win two major wars at the same time? It leaves us no choice but to procure and maintain every single weapons system currently in use by the US military? The Constitution requires all that?

I'm not saying these things aren't nice to have, of course. I'm just saying I don't think the framers imagined the US Federal Government would ever have such globally dominant military power, much less that it would the the *duty* of elected officials to ensure that was the case, or for citizens to pay for that. The founders weren't that happy about standing armies, for Pete's sake. Where does mindlessly big government come from? From unexamined, unquestioned inertia.

If you want smaller government, you have to settle for a government that does less, even in areas it is legitimately empowered to do things. If you *really* wanted smaller government, then eliminating the attraction of supreme global power would make government less attractive to people likely to raid the taxpayer's pocketbook. The problem is we're riding the bull of world domination and it ain't so easy to get off.

Hey Congress! (5, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180640)

To paraphrase, "If you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance!"

Re:Hey Congress! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180796)

Right, because government spending on science has been so successful at stopping us from being ignorant up to now, and nothing else will do.

Here are some interesting articles on the subject of public funding of science:
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article3201917.ece
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article671701.ece

Re:Hey Congress! (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181030)

If you think a recession sucks, try a depression!

Let me tell you a parable. I have had pay cuts three years in a row now, but I managed to hang onto my job. My wife was not so lucky, has been out of work for a year.

I need to do a rather large capital outlay -- a roof on the house -- but I don't have the cash, and even if I could get the loan, it would be irresponsible to go deeper in debt right now, with my job in question and my wife out of work. Dig? As soon as things turn around, I'll be happy to spend the money, but right now, I've got to concentrate on more mundane, short term goals, like paying the mortgage and buying food. When money gets really tight, even heat is optional.

Now, I'm as big a fan of science as the next guy, am kinda pissed off that all those NASA projects got canceled, but I have to admit, although they *are* worth while, they are *not* enough worth while to warrant going deeper in debt. So I'm willing to wait until the economy is going again, even if it makes it less likely that I'll live to see man land on mars.

Investment in the sciences is vital to the race's continued well-being, or even existence, but there are times when you just have to say "not this year". Because when you're trying to make sure there will *be* a next year, what happens 50 or 100 years down the road becomes less important.

Re:Hey Congress! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181202)

I'm sorry, sir, but you appear to have posted a well-reasoned, diatribe-free viewpoint by mistake. This is Slashdot.

Re:Hey Congress! (1)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181218)

If you had to take those pay cuts because your skills are getting out of date (still useful, but not as much as they used to be), and you're avoiding buying books or taking classes to improve your skills because you can't afford both that and a nice dinner out three days a week...well, then that'd be more like what this budget is doing.

Re:Hey Congress! (2)

haruchai (17472) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181320)

When there's so much wasteful spending, why focus on cutting something that may actually pay off, even if not immediately. Roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy, start closing military bases and end the war(s). Start closing the feeding troughs for corn farmers and oil companies.
That will free up one hell of a lot of cash. Just half the money spent or slated to be spent in the Middle East wars would have fully funded every major
worthwhile ( and even some harebrained ) infrastructure project in the US. And don't get me started on the bailouts ( although some of it, I admit, was necessary )

Re:Hey Congress! (4, Insightful)

magsol (1406749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181324)

That's not a bad argument, but I have to point out what I perceive to be a poor analogy: you're absolutely correct regarding your roofing that, while it's definitely straddling the border between "useful" and "really really useful", it's not nearly as "critical" as, say, mortgage and food. However, the roofing is completely independent from your stream of income; having your current roof vs redoing the roof will not alter your pay grade one cent. On the other hand, investing in these scientific programs could (and probably will) stimulate the economy in a feed-forward loop of its own. The only issue with that plan is that this science/education funding is one of the longest-term goals out there: we probably wouldn't see the benefits of it for at least a decade or two, if not more. But by laying the groundwork now, we'd be much more prepared to make the big breakthroughs when our technology is ready. The roofing is just that, and nothing more. Investment in these long-term goals yield far more than just their up-front cost.

Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (5, Informative)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180676)

Defense and security: In 2010, some 20 percent of the budget, or $715 billion, will pay for defense and security-related international activities. The bulk of the spending in this category reflects the underlying costs of the Department of Defense and other security-related activities. The total also includes the cost of supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is expected to total $172 billion in 2010.

Social Security: Another 20 percent of the budget, or $708 billion, will pay for Social Security, which provided retirement benefits averaging $1,117 per month to 36 million retired workers (and their eligible dependents) in December 2009. Social Security also provided survivors’ benefits to 6.4 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers and disability benefits to 9.7 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents in December 2009.

Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP: Three health insurance programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — will together account for 21 percent of the budget in 2010, or $753 billion. Nearly two-thirds of this amount, or $468 billion, will go to Medicare, which provides health coverage to around 46 million people who are over the age of 65 or have disabilities. The remainder of this category funds Medicaid and CHIP, which in a typical month in 2010 will provide health care or long-term care to about 64 million low-income children, parents, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Both Medicaid and CHIP require matching payments from the states.

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258 [cbpp.org]

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (5, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180730)

Social Security: Another 20 percent of the budget

Much as the politicians would have you think so, Social Security isn't part of "the budget". It's a separate revenue stream.

Look at the numbers on your check stub sometimes. That's whey they call it "entitlement" - you're entitled to get yours back.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181024)

Yeah but it doesn't stop them from raiding it for funds from time to time.

Raiding Social Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181182)

Not exactly. Any receipts in excess of disbursements go to Federal securities, which isn't all that bad an idea in itself.

The fun came in in (IIRC) 1983, when SS was lumped into overall budget numbers for purposes of reporting to the public. Until then, SS had its own completely separate books. In 1983, coincidentally at the same time as the SS tax was raised a good bit resulting in huge surpluses, SS was lumped in with the general fund. The result was that the reported overall budget deficit appeared smaller than it really was thanks to the SS tax increase at the low end of the income scale hiding the revenue drops from the Reagan tax cuts at the high end.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181058)

not just the politicians, but the "liberal" media as well. thanks for providing some facts.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (3, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181080)

That's the sales pitch friend. That's not the reality - if you're young you're never getting that money back (and chances are you don't expect to). The SS system is and was designed to be a direct transfer of income from the young to the old. Not in and of itself a terrible idea, but due to changes in life expectancy and demographics it just doesn't work any more. We need to change to a program that does.

Look at the budget in terms of revenue (where 100 is total federal revenue):

100 - Money given to the old and poor (SS, medi*, federal pensions, welfare)
30 - defense
10 - income on the debt
20 - everything else

We need to cut spending across the board by almost half to get to where we're repaying the debt. Everthing has to be cut, and cut by nearly half. Cutting science and other useful programs is barely going to make an impact, but it's a needed prerequisite to cutting retirement programs. People aren't going to accept that they aren't going to get their "entitlement" before it's clear that everyone everywhere is sharing the pain, with no exemptions or sacred cows.

But there's no other option. We're spending 160% of what we take in, and that's just insane.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (1)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181094)

Much as the politicians would have you think so, Social Security isn't part of "the budget". It's a separate revenue stream.

Look at the numbers on your check stub sometimes. That's whey they call it "entitlement" - you're entitled to get yours back.

There is no entitlement to Social Security or "to get yours back". See: US Supreme Court case Flemming v. Nestor (1960).

Regardless of how it is sold to the masses, if you strip away the political theater and posturing your Social Security payments are essentially a welfare tax that can be redistributed as the government sees fit at any particular time. The government has no obligation pay a person Social Security no matter how much they have paid in.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181152)

That's adorably naive.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181222)

You actually believe in the So Security "lock box"? Bwaa Haa Haa! Your "lock box" is a file cabinet in the SSA office full of IOUs. The money taken from your check (and your employers share) gets dumped directly into the federal budget, to be spent just like the rest of the taxes. You can call it "a seperate revenue stream", but it ends up in the same spending pool as everything else. If the government runs out of money, you ain't goin' to get yours back. There ain't goin' to be anything left to get back.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181268)

The problem is people are living longer and the birth rate dropped. What you paid in might cover 15 or 20 years but alot of people are living longer than that now. Medicad is far worse with most drawing 3X what they contributed. You can say you are entitled to the money but for the last 5 or 10 years of your life some one else is entitled to pay the cost. You have to eventually reduce the benefits or it'll one day take most of our tax dollars to pay the cost. Look at it this way in 20 or so years the cost of entitlements and the interest on the debt will exceed the tax revenue. That means no money for anything else. Factor in the sacred cow of defense and we'll get there fairly soon.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181306)

Much as the politicians would have you think so, Social Security isn't part of "the budget". It's a separate revenue stream.

This is what the Social Security Administration [ssa.gov] has to say about it:

However, those involved in budget matters often produce two sets of numbers, one without Social Security included in the budget totals and one with Social Security included. Thus, Social Security is still frequently treated as though it were part of the unified federal budget even though, technically, it no longer is.

The "included in" numbers are, without exception, the ones used for public consumption.

Re:Medicare bigger than DoD, Social Security close (1)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181290)

Medicare absolutely needs to be front in center in the budget discussion. The ballooning cost of health care is the greatest threat to this countries finances. Insurance premiums doubled from 2000-2006. That's why the President's health care plan reduces the deficit by 138 billion dollars over the next 10 years. It's the most significant effort to cut the deficit in 15 years. You fix health care even a little, and you make a big impact.

its not the money (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180700)

it is the spirit which makes successful science and applications!

money may simply be an indicator that new things are welcome -

but it is not the media good science grows on.

-

the best fertilizing media for science is the readiness to accept surprising results when they are beinf presented and proofed!

Re:its not the money (3, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180854)

but it is not the media good science grows on.

Yes, when those post-docs lose their research funding they'll just keep researching in their garage at their own expense. There they will join the mass ranks of other volunteer scientists making new and groundbreaking discoveries every day.

We're talking about cutting well over $5 billion from science spending. Anyone that wants to pretend that won't destroy much of 'the media good science grows on' is delusional.

Re:its not the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180868)

Cut all the science spending! Scientists should work for nothing!

Cut the military (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180708)

you fools!

Pullout? (2)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180756)

Weren't we supposed to be pulling out of this "war" by now? I thought that would help a lot with our overzealous spending.

Re:Pullout? (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180930)

Which war?

Obama claims we pulled out of Iraq, although for some reason we still have a lot of soldiers there.

Afghanistan is an endless war, we'll either leave or give up at some point (I hope.)

Pakistan is probably the scariest, because there are actual nukes in the country, an unstable government, and (so we're told) terrorist types hiding out.

PBS? NRP? CPB? (0)

certron (57841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180824)

Is this the same budget that is proposing cutting to zero the funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? These programs provide far more social good and support democracy (a viewpoint I am still not quite jaded about, yet). There are so many other places to cut and other sources of tax revenue that should be explored long before this is considered. There are projects that the Pentagon doesn't even want but are still funded. Maybe the cast of Sesame Street should show up in DC and TEACH THEM SOME MATH.

Re:PBS? NRP? CPB? (-1, Troll)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181004)

This is why our country is bankrupt. Everyone has their little pet programs that simply shouldn't be touched, ever.

Fuck that. Cut hard, cut deep.

Any department or line item with a budget under $10 million = cut completely. Gone, eliminated.

Any department without a Constitutional authorization (Energy, Education, HHS, HUD, and so forth) = cut completely. Gone, eliminated.

Everything else: 35% across the board, no exceptions.

Even then, we'd still be running a huge deficit. But this would at least be a start.

People have to understand that the US is bankrupt, there is no more money. We have to tighten our belts or the Chinese will tighten them for us.

Re:PBS? NRP? CPB? (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181016)

Is this the same budget that is proposing cutting to zero the funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? These programs provide far more social good and support democracy (a viewpoint I am still not quite jaded about, yet)

If you agree with their bias, yes. I don't want my tax dollars going to support an agenda. I wouldn't want my tax dollars going to Fox News, either.

ideology and smarts (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180850)

Some of that is obviously ideological (EPA, Clean *, etc.), but the rest is just stupid.

In addition to the long-term hazards of cutting back science (and education), austerity programs are exactly what government's *shouldnt* do when the economy sags. Every dollar they cut from a program is a dollar someone isn't going to be spending next year, so tax revenues will drop even further.

A government with any sense would establish a sustainable cost of operations, borrow money when times are bad, and pay off the loans when times are good.

Unfortunately, a republic (representative democracy) tends to become a 'politicianocracy', and politicians buy votes by spending money on stuff their supporters want. So nobody wants to pay down debt when times are good; they just want to take the opportunity to spend more.

Doesnt the legislative branch cost 7 billion / yr? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180882)

Seems like we could save some money there right. And I really doubt that number accounts for the full cost. Travel, Military Liaison, health care, etc. These probably all end up under other budgets.

Does anyone really think the Legislative Branch is providing 7 billion dollars a year of benefit to the US?

Science along with... (1)

hackus (159037) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180920)

a lot of other things are going to be on the "chopping block" so to speak as this depression unwinds.

Now that the bankers have stolen everything and are using the money to jack up prices and accumulate limitless power and wealth by toppling governments, expect lots of things to be on the chopping block.

It will sweep the globe, and many of the elite and puppet governments will fall.

Then you can start to worry about WW III because when people have empty bellies, things get nasty.

All for a bunch of bankers.

What a waste.

-Hack

Nothing new here (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180942)

Speaking as a civil servant, I've seen this before. Politicians don't like cutting. They REALLY don't like cutting things that actually matter.

They're not serious about balancing the budget. They never are. Being serious about it means that you have to go after the big ticket items. Unfortunately the big ticket items are also popular, and that makes it hard to do politically. It doesn't help that your average voter is a moron who doesn't understand anything that takes longer then ten seconds to explain.

So, what we get is politicians who want to look like they care about balancing the budget and "shrinking government" nibbling around the edges while overseeing massive expansions in the government in the form of bullshit like TSA.

Just business as usual in politics.

A good start! (1)

LDAPMAN (930041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180952)

This is a good start. Now it's time to get some balls and cut entitlements and defense. As a true fiscal Conservative, I want the federal government gutted.

Priorities Please! (1)

pugugly (152978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180962)

Let's cut the budget in anything that sets up a definite investment, and make sure we keep blowing money on weapons and a deparmtent of defense to make sure no one can invade the burned out wasteland left after the GOP wins in 2012.

For my part, I'll be investing overseas - maybe if I make enough money I can corrupt their government into forgetting to educate their citizenry too!
Remember, whoever gives heavy metal poisoning to their children last, wins!!!

Pug

Re:Priorities Please! (1)

kwahoo (899178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181242)

Yes, the cuts in research are plain stupid. They may save money in the short term but will cost far more in the long term. It's like dropping out of college to save money and working minimum wage. Maybe you won't go into debt as much in the short term, but in the long term... Even a first grader can understand how stupid this is.

Social Security -- lets get it straight (1)

unil_1005 (1790334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181052)

Social Security is self-funding.

It does not come out the general budget.

It does come out of your paycheck.

Congress has even been known to raid the Social Security trust fund to support its own budget.

--------------

This radically different from the "Defense" budget, both in purpose and in funding source.

I hate when people can't do math (1)

PuckSR (1073464) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181130)

Really? Social Security?

Let me pose a hypothetical. Let's cut off all social security. No one gets social security.
Now, lets also get rid of the OASDI(social security tax). We wont have to worry about this huge problem anymore

Now, watch as the Tax Revenue of the Federal government drops by more than the spending reductions. Oh, and we had better pay back all the "excess funds" for social security that have built up over the years, but were borrowed to cover other gaps in the budget. Its only fair since most retired people have put 6% of their lifetime income into that tax revenue.

Look, I am not against cutting social security...but it is a bit misleading to claim that social security is a strain on the budget.

Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181156)

What China has not done to us, then the neo-cons who own major shares of minor parts of Chinese corporations will do the rest.
Well played by the fucking neo-cons.

How to Kill a Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181212)

Makes perfect sense to cut investments in the future so the US can keep supporting us old crocks (the past) and making the world safe for dictatorships everywhere (DOD). What a wonderful strategy for rebuilding the US -- bet some people are just hugging themselves at how this will accelerate the decline of the country. Oh, but I am sure it will be dressed up with patriotic humbug so it will look like destroying the future of our children is a good idea. I lived through the huge wave of prosperity that was created after Sputnik -- it seems these huys have lost their courage and their vision. A pity.

They told you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181234)

Since the Great Society you've been told by Conservatives that entitlements would grow, interest on the debt would grow and crowd out everything else. Defense is mandated in paragraph 1, word 25 of the Constitution; everything else will be sacrificed before it, and then defense will go as well, because really cutting Entitlements is politically infeasible.

Enjoy.

Social Security Mentality (1)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181288)

Politictions and people need to get out of the mindset that Social Security is part of the Federal Budget. It isn't. The law that introduced it said it would be separate from the federal budget. Look at your paystub sometime. Notice why the tax is not included in the withholding? Because it's not a tax. The author of this blurb is showing pure ignorance of how SS works.
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