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Mars? Bring the Deficit Down-to-Earth First, Group Says

Susan Jones | Morning Editor | Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Mars? Bring the Deficit Down-to-Earth First, Group Says

(CNSNews.com) - A group that monitors wasteful government spending says President Bush's moon-to-Mars initiative is a "noble idea" - but too risky and too costly and "not feasible at this time."

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is sounded a note of caution on the same day President Bush planned to outline his space proposals.

"Cost estimates for the new programs range from $550 billion to $1 trillion," said CAGW President Tom Schatz. "Until the federal government brings the record deficit back down to Earth, it should not launch expensive new space programs of questionable scientific value."

The federal deficit for the first three months of fiscal 2004 was $126 billion, CAGW noted. The Congressional Budget Office and Office of Management and Budget both predict that the deficit will maintain that pace, exceeding $500 billion over the course of the year.

CAGW also noted that a man-to-Mars mission was scuttled in the first Bush administration because of deficit concerns -- and back then, in 1989, the deficit was only $152 billion.

"Under the current budget conditions, taking a trip to Mars is the equivalent of a family with two kids in college, one parent unemployed, and the other parent working only part-time, taking a two-week vacation to the Caribbean," Schatz said.

"On the other hand, maybe sending a man to Mars makes sense, since no one will be able to afford to live on this planet if deficits and debt keep skyrocketing."