One thing I haven't seen discussed is that once this rocket is built, what the hell is going to fly on it? I don't see any mention of funding for building a 75mT payload that will then be ready to fly when the rocket is. Right now, all I see happening is that this giant rocket will be built and then will sit around for years waiting for something large enough to fly on it to be built.
Which raises another question: Do we even need it? What's the point in having a giant rocket without giant payloads to fly? What I would like to see is a study comparing the cost and timescale of doing the following two options:
1) Build this huge rocket, utilizing the expensive legacy shuttle hardware. Then design and build a huge payload as justification for your huge rocket. (Sound familiar, sort of like the ISS-Space shuttle relationship?) Fly this huge rocket a couple times per year, making you unable to amortize fixed costs (launch pads, support personnel, etc) over more launches. If the launcher fails, you've lost 75 mT of payload. Ouch. So you'll also need to spend more money making extra-sure that it'll succeed. Oh, and if you fail, your mission is completely grounded until the vehicle is fixed and re-tested and certified for flight again, because there are no other 75mT capacity launchers in existence.
2) Start designing and building payloads that will fit on existing (or near future) commercial launchers. Start a market for even more launches. Let some economies of scale come into the picture and reduce launch costs for you. Let commercial companies compete and bid for your business. If the launcher fails, you've lost a lot less payload than in option 1. Inconvenient, but not as devastating as losing option one's super-launcher. Also, if one of your commercial launchers does fail, you have some more to choose from to launch things in the meantime while the failed rocket is investigated, fixed, re-tested and re-certified. Your entire program does not have to grind to a halt while the launcher is fixed.
Now, which of those options would result in more activity in space? Personally, I think option 2 would be the way to go. More opportunity for cost saving. No single point of failure to get your stuff into orbit. You can start designing payloads to go up right away, instead of waiting for the funding to become available after your shuttle-derived super launcher is ready.
But, of course, what I wrote above does not matter to congress. All they care about is: Does this program pay back my donors enough for them to keep supporting me?