President Obama sent his $3.7 trillion FY2012 budget to Congress today, opening the next phase in the debate of how to deal with the nation's huge and mounting deficit situation. Republicans (and others)are saying that the budget does not contain nearly enough reductions to make a serious dent in the burgeoning deficit. With major cuts likely in the pending Continuing Resolution (CR) that will probably stand from March 4 through the rest of FY 2010, this budget story is going to be a wild ride.
The budget proposal for NASA is $18.7 billion, equivalent to the amount in last year's (FY2010) budget. Cuts in the current House CR proposal for FY2011 take this year's budget ~$300 million lower. Given the need to tackle the deficit, cuts in every program are unavoidable. The trick in an area like space, which has so much potential for spurring future economic growth, is to allocate the resources we have most effectively. The most significant way of doing this is to sustain the efforts currently underway to engage the private sector in a greater role in human expansion into space.
Hard choices will have to be made across federal, state and local budgets. While many budget reductions will be painful cuts in beneficial programs, some cuts will be a no-brainer, especially this one.