Obama Focusing On Funding Economic Stimulus
President-elect Obama is focusing on the weak economy and financial system crisis, along with auto industry woes, raising questions as to how much new money will be available for programs such as defense and space.
Obama said during his successful campaign to be elected president that he wishes to pump $2 billion extra into NASA to help reduce the planned half-decade gap when the United States won’t be able to transport a single astronaut to space, not even to low Earth orbit.
President Bush ordered the space shuttle fleet to cease flying in 2010, even though the next-generation Orion-Ares spacecraft system won’t begin manned flights until 2015.
Meanwhile, the United States must depend on Russia to transport American astronauts to and from the International Space Station that was built with $100 billion of U.S. taxpayers’ money.
Democrats in Congress and Obama are focused on economic stimulus measures, with Obama saying his plan would create 2.5 million new jobs by 2011. He would provide tax cuts to the middle class and poor, and pour money into infrastructure repair programs such as renovating highways and bridges.
Democrats in Congress as well say tax cuts should be provided to the non-rich, perhaps running to $300 billion or more.
That may mean downward fiscal pressure on non-stimulus programs, such as missile defense, which Democrats in the past two years have cut or limited for programs still in the development phase.
Much of the existing Democratic leadership in Congress, specifically in the defense authorization and spending area, will return in the next Congress convening in January. (Please see story in this issue.)
On top of this, the first baby boomer this year applied for and began receiving Social Security benefits, the first of millions in that giant generation, and the retirement budget for the aged, plus Medicare and Medicaid, are expected to impose ever-growing financial strains on the government in coming years.
There are ways for Obama to finance new programs such as fiscal stimulus without cutting existing programs such as missile defense, but it is unclear whether he will move to increase federal revenues sufficiently. (Please see Space & Missile Defense Report, Monday, Nov. 10, 2008.)