Why not let (extraorbital) US Manned Spaceflight die for now?
Before you reply, consider for a moment the relative gains we have gotten from things like Hubble, Cassini, the mars rovers, Japan's Hinode solar satellite, etc, to what we have achieved with the ISS and the projected goals of Orion, versus the costs of the programs.
I have a strong knee-jerk reaction against letting manned spaceflight die too; dammit, I *want* people to walk on Mars. But the fact is, we are learning a hell of a lot from unmanned missions at a tiny fraction of the cost.
We can resurrect the idea of extraorbital manned missions at any time; would it make sense to shelve them for now though?
Also, I wouldn't frame the argument for manned spaceflight as "will of the people" if I were you; what you and I want in this respect is likely quite different than the (general) "will of the people".
Actually the budget deficits were not manageable; they were simply pushed back.
This is not a partisan issue at all; increases in the national debt are public record and there for anyone to see, be it on wikipedia or
The Reagan administration borrowed more money than all the presidents before him, combined. Basically, it was the same idea as living "well" by maxing out credit cards and getting new ones when you fill up the old ones. Fun while it lasts, but someone has to pay for it eventually.
So, we get to where we are today, with the interest on the national debt being more than 20 times NASA's annual budget. Granted, a lot of that came from both presidents Bush too, especially the latter. GHWB kind of inherited a problem there from Reagan.
Anyway, remember that when you look back to the Reagan years as some kind of boon for the space industry. Short term, definitely; long term, not so much.
Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?