September 21, 2005

BREAK OUT THE GREEN EYE SHADES:

GOP to unveil $500 billion savings plan (Carl Hulse, 9/21/05, The New York Times)

Conservative House Republicans plan to recommend today more than $500 billion in savings over 10 years to compensate for the costs of Hurricane Katrina as lawmakers continue to struggle to develop a consensus on the fiscal approach to the disaster.

At the top of a partial list of the potential cuts being circulated Tuesday were previously suggested ideas like delaying the start of the new Medicare prescription drug coverage for one year to save $31 billion and eliminating $25 billion in home-state projects from the newly enacted transportation measure.

The list also proposed eliminating the moon-Mars initiative that NASA announced Monday, for $44 billion in savings; ending support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $4 billion; cutting taxpayer payments for the national political conventions and the presidential election campaign fund, $600 million; and charging federal employees for parking, $1.54 billion.


The most important thing Ronald Reagan did for the GOP was to get it to stop being the party of doom and gloom, but there are always back-sliders.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2005 11:20 PM
Comments

The Slimes reports this as bad news, but if all they managed to get is defunding PBS, this will be a huge victory!

Posted by: obc at September 21, 2005 11:40 PM

"The most important thing Ronald Reagan did for the GOP was to get it to stop being the party of doom and gloom, but there are always back-sliders."

Does this mean you support the plan to cut spending or oppose it?

Posted by: Glaivester at September 22, 2005 2:35 AM

. . . ending support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $4 billion; cutting taxpayer payments for the national political conventions and the presidential election campaign fund, $600 million; and charging federal employees for parking, $1.54 billion.

That Rove is a genius, I tells ya.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 22, 2005 6:43 AM

I understand OJ's point about the doom and gloom GOP. That said, if the GOP can target programs that most Americans would find wasteful (i.e. PBS, bridges to nowhere, wasteful transportation projects, etc) the public will agree. Killing things that might be popular, like NASA, may backfire.

Posted by: AWW at September 22, 2005 7:38 AM

Glaiv:

If they're serious they should start by cutting GOP boondoggles--the Commerce Department, agriculture subsidies, the military, etc.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2005 8:12 AM

I heard a GOP congresswoman saying that Earned Income Tax Credits should be "re-targeted" (i.e., eliminate some of the people covered) to save money. Talk about tone deaf! Pay for hurricane relief on the backs of the "working poor". Good idea.

PBS is popular with the people. Its only cranky conservatives like us who want its funding cut.

Posted by: Bob at September 22, 2005 9:23 AM

PBS is popular with the people who watch it.

Nobody watches it.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 22, 2005 9:42 AM

If PBS is popular with the people, it will pull gangbusters numbers in the ratings when it goes private, right?

Posted by: Melissa at September 22, 2005 9:59 AM

It's already mostly private--just establish a trust fund and make them sell ad time, but keep its mission and board public.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2005 10:19 AM

$4 billion dollars seems like a lot of public money for a mostly private organization.

Posted by: Melissa at September 22, 2005 10:53 AM

In a 2.3 trillion dollar budget? It only means anything to the Right.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2005 11:00 AM

Have to agree with OJ on this one - only cranky conservatives are bothered by PBS and cutting it would be a terrible public relations move for the GOP. I watch PBS all the time by the way.

How about cutting out the US Dept. of Education instead.

Of course according to that political test thingy that we took here a few months ago I', labelled as a "pro-government conservative" so I guess I've never really been too concerned about big government - only wrong government.

Posted by: Shelton at September 22, 2005 11:15 AM

I don't think PBS should get funding since I am a cranky conservative. However, there is zero chance of its funding being eliminated. How many times has de-funding been attempted since 1980? Every time it is proposed, they trought out Big Bird with a gun to his head and that it that.

Posted by: Bob at September 22, 2005 11:15 AM

Cut the space program, period! It is time to privatize space. Private enterprise will get us back to the Moon and Mars soon enough. There's no rush, they aren't going anywhere.

The space program has turned into a presidential legacy builder. It's a boondoggle in it's present form. Abandon the space station or sell it to the Russians. Decommission the shuttle now. Close down Cape Canaveral & Houston control. The only government space program we need is military.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at September 22, 2005 1:07 PM

Exploration is always up to states.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2005 1:17 PM

Why?

We can explore Mars with robots. People will pay to go to the Moon. Tourism is the most promising space industry right now, and that is best left up to the private sector.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at September 22, 2005 1:43 PM

Because they don't.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2005 1:50 PM

K'plagh.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 22, 2005 1:54 PM

So, oj, I'm still not getting your point: is what you are saying here that the GOP should just spend, spend, spend on Katrina and not worry about how to pay for it?

I agree that conservative boondoggles ought to be cut as well, but I'm happy to see any cuts at all myself.

Posted by: Glaivester at September 22, 2005 5:39 PM

Yes. It's a disaster. Just spend the money.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2005 5:55 PM

Because they don't.

That's right - and that is the EXACT SAME dynamic as with carbuyers/auto manufacturers/CAFE.
Americans don't drive carbon-fiber autos with tank-like safety and motorcycle-like fuel consumption, because most Americans have trouble with long-term planning and cost/benefit analysis.
We'd rather save $ 5G up front, and pay on the back end.

If we leave it up to private enterprise, we'll get a Mars visit right around never.
Where's the profit to be made in doing so ?

The profit isn't directly fiscal, it's cultural and strategic.
That's why it makes sense for the gov't to handle it, since they're the organization tasked with long-term planning for American society - regardless of competency.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2005 3:05 AM

The government didn't organize Steve Fawcett's round the world balloon flight, or Dick (or is it Burt?) Rutan's nonstop-nonrefuelled around-the world flight. There is plenty of private wealth and ambition out there to take over on the space exploration front.

What exactly are we trying to accomplish with a Mars visit? Besides checking it off the list of human accomplishments? I was a huge fan of the space program during the Appollo program, but even I got somewhat bored with the later missions. Appollo was the result of a dare by the Soviets. Once we accomplished it, it had served its purpose. Where is the national interest with the Mars mission, outside of pride?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at September 23, 2005 10:59 AM

They weren't exploring, just adventuring. Government funded virtually every exploration.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2005 11:31 AM

If we're talking long term planning Michael, let's take a strategic approach, then. Let's not rush to accomplish this or that goal, but build an enabling infrastructure to facilitate future exploration. Like a cheap, reusable orbiter. What are the key technologies that will make future space exploration sustainable? The government can fund research in these technologies. Also, we have to avoid future white elephant investments like the space shuttle. We should contract out orbiter services to private companies via competitive bids, have more than one model active at any one time, and put the contracts up for re-bid every 5 years or so.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at September 23, 2005 4:25 PM

I believe that's what we're doing now, by building a permanent Moon base first, as a launchpoint and test-bed for the Mars base.

Yes, the Mars visit is about checking off another item on the list of human accomplishments, but:

* Humans are invigorated by striving, and debilitated by excessive comfort and luxury - such as the modern American middle class routinely enjoys.
Exploring, conquering, and exploiting is what we DO.

* We have no idea what kind of unthought-of benefits might accrue from striving to put humans on the Red Planet.

Besides, it's dirt cheap, relatively speaking.
The combined spending in America for cosmetics, soft drinks, and cellphone ringer downloads would easily cover the tab for a Mars mission.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2005 10:44 PM
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