GOP Budget Cutters on NASA: 8%…50%…It’s All Good

Republican budget cutters are preparing to take an axe to the federal budget trunk — and anyone (low-income students, rocket scientists, the newly disabled) who gets in the way. It’s part of an effort to fulfill a campaign promise to cut $100 billion from domestic discretionary spending.

Just how bad would the cuts be for NASA? Legislators are actually targeting $84 billion in cuts, a reduction of 18 percent that would return spending to 2008 levels. NASA’s funding would be cut about 8 percent from $18.93 billion to $17.4 billion. However, some Republicans outside of government are advocating a much steeper reduction — by 50 percent to $9.47 billion.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

“A return to 2008 levels would mean significant cuts for lots of programs favored by Republicans, including an 8 percent cut to NASA, a 16 percent cut for the FBI and a 13 percent cut in the operating budget of the national parks…

Republicans in Texas, Florida and Alabama — where NASA facilities mean thousands of jobs — are sure to fight against cuts to the space agency. NASA could have to abandon the International Space Station because of the cuts, the White House warns.”

Meanwhile, former Congressman Dick Armey believes the proposed cuts are far too low. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored with FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe, Armey argues that NASA’s budget should be cut by 50 percent, saving $90 billion over a decade.

While such a drastic cut is unlikely, NASA is facing considerable budget pressures as legislators focus on getting the federal deficit under control. Asked about the space agency’s budget prospects earlier this week, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden replied:

“That’s hard to say. I’ll be able to answer that question for you better in the middle of February, when we get our budget. It would be premature for me to try to guess. It may be that the Congress decides that they really think exploration is really important … and we’ll find the level of funding is OK.”

We’ll see what happens.